A shark research station in the Bahamas has come under attack â€” and the culprit is a huge foot-long crustacean.
According to the report in the Smithsonian Magazine, the group of scientists from the Bahamas Cape Eleuthera Institute were studying deep sea sharks, using a special camera called a Medusa.
This is an expensive set-up which sits on the sea bed and provides footage of deep sea animals.
However, when the footage was uploaded onto a laptop, researchers discovered the video had been cut short — for some reason the power on the camera had just stopped working.
On investigation, it was discovered that the coating of the power cable was covered in teeth-like marks of some kind. It turned out that it had been gnawed on by a Giant isopod called Bathynomus — a huge crustacean that looks like a giant woodlouse, and can reach lengths of 35cm/14" or more.
"There’s nothing else with mandibles that sharp," said Edd Brooks, who was part of the research team.
Shots of the culprit had been captured by the camera when it had still been working earlier in the day.
The cable was replaced — but then the Bathynomus struck a second time and once more the screen went dark.
At this point the team decided to give up until a new cable with plastic coils could be fitted, to guard against further attacks.
Despite its appearance, Brooks explained that Bathynomus is actually an important ocean scavenger that cleans up whatever comes to rest at the bottom of the sea, including whale carcasses and fish.
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