One of my, and the internet’s, favorite animals.
[Photo credit: Wikipedia]
B. giganteus, or the giant isopod, is a deep-sea benthic, carnivorous, scavenging crustacean that can grow to a length of 79cm, (30in). As you can see from the photo, it sort of resembles a massive wood louse/pill bug - unsurprising, as wood lice are also isopods, and are considered something of a “cousin” to the sea-dwelling varieties. In fact, like terrestrial isopods, the giant isopod can curl up into a ball when disturbed or threatened.
[Photo credit: SeaPics.com]
B. giganteus is found worldwide, typically from the sublittoral zone, (170m/550ft), to the lightless bathypelagic zone, (2,140m/7,020ft). Its impressive size - most isopod species, marine or otherwise, rarely grow larger than 5cm - is an example of a phenomenon known as abyssal or deep-sea gigantism, the tendency of deep-sea dwellers to grow to much larger sizes than their shallower-dwelling relatives, the reasons for which are still not fully understood.
[Photo credit: Wikipedia]
Giant isopods are described as being pale lilac in color - a surprisingly delicate hue for something that a lot of people consider to be high octane nightmare fuel. Maybe the innocuous color just makes it more unsettling? I don’t know. Personally, every time I see one of these, I am struck by an overwhelming urge to pet it. If you feel the same way, the internet offers countless ways to show your isopod love, (though my favorite one is no longer in production).
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this:
Oh, it’s real.
Found this handsome critter chilling in the garden next to the cucumbers, this evening. I’d never seen this type of frog, (I believe it to be a frog, rather than a toad, but I could be wrong), before, but then, I am terrible with the flora and fauna of my home region. Such colors on it, though! At any rate, I’d like to have it identified, if I may. Here is another, even less clear photo. For reference, I am located in New York’s Hudson Valley region. Anyone recognize it?
J’s Wild Kingdom, a set on Flickr.
A handful of the animal photos I’ve taken over the years - both in captivity and in the wild - in one convenient package. Some are, in terms of quality, rather shoddy, but they get the job done. There is no overarching theme, other than that these are personal favorites. Click the polar bear to view the whole set at once.
By Linda Moultan Howe, May 27, 2011.
Includes an interview with Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, Santa Cruz and Capitola, CA. The gist of it is that they still don’t know anything. Oh, and apparently bat rays may have also been affected.
“Richardson Bay north of Sausalito (top red circle), Coyote Point near Burlingame, then Foster City and Redwood City are the main locations of the unexplained leopard shark die-off since January 2011. A few bat rays were also found washed up in same areas.”
Image and all associated content behind the link courtesy of Earthfiles.
Other areas of California are now reporting numbers of dead leopard sharks - the still-mysterious affliction would seem to be the same one observed in the sharks of Redwood City, (see my initial post on this issue).
By Mark Prado, The Marin Independent Journal, 5/19/2011:
…Starting May 2, Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary researchers began to scour beaches along Richardson Bay after high tide. Since then, more than 20 have turned up dead.
“The leopard sharks are here this time of year anyway, but we don’t know if that’s why we are seeing dead ones or if they are being washed here,” Wilcox said. “There are all sorts of questions.”
Last week, Liz Beers and her mother were walking near Greenwood Cove near the Cove Apartments in Tiburon and saw five leopard sharks that had beached themselves.
“Three of the leopard sharks were already dead and the other two were floundering about, trying to free themselves from the mud,” she wrote via email. “It was a very sad sight.”
More than 100 of the sharks have washed ashore in San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties over the past month.
The sharks need a certain amount of salinity to survive, but with all the rain that has fallen this year there may be too much freshwater in the bay. A similar die-off occurred in 2006 after heavy rains, said Carrie Wilson, biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game.
“Based on history, that is one thing we are looking at,” she said.
But the evidence for that theory is not conclusive. Another theory is that there is a lack of oxygen in the water. Samples of the dead sharks have been taken for analysis. Those results will come back in a few weeks and could provide more details. [full story]
SEEN A SHARK?
Workers at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center are asking the public to notify them with any sightings of dead or dying leopard sharks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 388-2524.
This story has me really, really upset, so I’m going to be following it closely and posting updates about it whenever I can. Here’s a more detailed article from X-Ray Mag. See if you can spot the red flag in this description of the behavior of the species.
“The leopard shark occurs in the cool to warm-temperate continental waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean, from Coos Bay, Oregon to Mazatlán, Mexico, including the Gulf of California. It favors muddy or sandy flats within enclosed bays and estuaries, and may also be encountered near kelp beds and rocky reefs, or along the open coast. Numbers have been known to gather near discharges of warm effluent from power plants.”
Wow, what an interesting friggin’ coincidence. [full story]
The poor little guys.
Photo credit: Matthew Field, www.photography.mattfield.com
Discovery News - Analysis by Jennifer Viegas
Thu May 12, 2011 01:28 PM ET
Dozens of leopard sharks have been washing up dead in California since April, and now a necropsy shows at least one of the sharks died of massive internal bleeding, such that blood was even coming out of the shark’s skin, according to a Daily News report…
…A key question then clearly remains: What is causing the internal bleeding?
As of now, that’s still a mystery. A statement released by the Silicon Valley city mentioned, “The…pathologist is not drawing any conclusions until more examinations and all tests are performed.” [full story]
(Photo credit: Upsilon Andromidae)