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Courtesy National Oceanography Centre
Courtesy National Oceanography Centre

Watch 'Sea Lice' Devour an Entire Pig in Just Days

Courtesy National Oceanography Centre
Courtesy National Oceanography Centre

The shrimp-like ocean scavengers sometimes referred to as “sea lice” are a sight to behold. Generally less than 10 millimeters long, they cleanse the ocean by scavenging the remains of dead whales, fish, and seabirds—and they do it very effectively. 

In the name of science, researchers from Simon Fraser University in Canada lowered two dead pigs into the ocean off the coast of Vancouver to see how long it would take the tiny scavengers to devour them. One was placed in a cage because the area sees a lot of shark activity. It's this pig you see in the video.   

The researchers write that “the carcass was colonized within minutes by small arthropods called amphipods, or 'sea lice'. These rapidly became several centimeters thick on the body and entered the carcass via the orifices, eating it from the inside out. The amphipods became so numerous that they covered the entire cage and bars.”

The sea lice stripped the stocky pigs down to bare bones in just days. After they had their fill, a troupe of three spot shrimp finished the job by removing the remaining cartilage. Even a curious octopus investigated the remains, but by then the scattered bones were virtually bare.   

Eek! Cool! Watch it happen! 

Warning: You are about to watch a dense swarm of creatures devour a dead mammal. It is not for the faint of stomach. 

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NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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iStock
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Food
Jellyfish Chips Might Be Your Next Snack Obsession
iStock
iStock

When it comes to processed foods, the palate of the average American isn't very adventurous. A bag of pickle-flavored Lay's chips might be a radical snack option. But if researchers in Denmark are on the right track, we may soon be crunching a very different kind of treat: jellyfish chips, as Futurism reports.

The ethereal-looking marine animals are usually recognized for their squishy frames and sometimes as a threat due to their venomous sting. They're often prepared for human consumption in Asian cultures, with the body being marinated in salt and potassium for weeks to create a crunchy delicacy. Recently, Danish scientists at the University of Southern Denmark were able to expedite this process, using ethanol to create a crispy jellyfish chip in a matter of days.

A jellyfish chip is made from a jellyfish being dried out in ethanol
Mie T. Pedersen

Why bother? Due to overfishing, more popular seafoods are experiencing shortages. The jellyfish, however, have a flourishing population and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Right now, researchers are focused on the microscopic changes that take place when processing a jellyfish from its gooey natural state to a hardened, crunchy form. It could be a while before any serious product development is conducted. And as far as taste goes, it might need a bit of seasoning. The current process for making jellyfish consumable results in a taste that some have compared to eating a salty rubber band.

[h/t Futurism]

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