Giant isopods on display at UK aquarium

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Giant isopods, caught in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, are to go on display in Britain for the first time.

The nine giant isopods, Bathynomus giganteus, are due to go on display at the Sea Life Centre in Blackpool following a quarantine period.

The isopods could almost be mistaken for their terrestrial cousins woodlice in appearance, except in size - with each measuring approximately 30cm/12inches in length.

Isopods live on the seabed at great depths, Chris Brown, of the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, told the Daily Telegraph. There are lots of them down at the bottom of the sea but because of the depths they live at, they rarely turn up in fishing nets or lobster pots.

 

"They are scavengers which feed on the carcasses of dead fish and other creatures. They are doing a very good clean-up job.

"When we flew our nine to the UK, we wrapped each one individually in wet hessian. We then covered them in wet newspaper and then encased them in ice for the journey.

"They live in the dark in temperatures as low as 4C (39F) - we are very excited."

The giant isopods are currently undergoing a quarantine period at the Weymouth Sea Life Centre, in a large shaded tank in which the water temperature is being maintained at 4C.

Following their quarantine the isopods are to be transferred to the Sea Life Centre in Blackpool, where they will go on display.

The tank there has been fitted with reflective glass that keeps it dark inside but allows people to look in, said Brown.

It, too, is fitted with special coolers to keep the temperature at 4C.