A team of scientists recently set off on an expedition to the deep seas near New Zealand to sample various deep sea creatures, but what they found surprised them: a ‘supergiant’ amphipod measuring about 13 inches long.
Amphipods are shrimp-like crustaceans that thrive in lakes and oceans the world over, so they’re not an uncommon sight. What’s uncommon about the latest find, however, is just how big it is; amphipods are generally only between 2 and 3 centimeters long, but this supergiant amphipod is about 20 times that size.
“The moment the traps came on deck we were elated at the sight of the snailfish as we have been after these fish for years,” expedition leader Alan Jamieson from the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab said in a press release.
“However, seconds later, I stopped and thought ‘what on earth is that?’ whilst catching a glimpse of an amphipod far bigger than I ever thought possible. It’s a bit like finding a foot-long cockroach,” Jamieson said.
This isn’t the first time a supergiant amphipod has been seen–abnormally large amphipod specimens were first discovered back in 1899, according to a report, but weren’t seen again until the 70s and 80s.
“The surprising thing is that we have already been to this deep trench twice and never come across these animals before,” Jamieson added.
“In fact a few days after the discovery we deployed all the equipment again on the same site and we didn’t photograph or capture a single supergiant; they were there for a day and gone the next.”