Monsters of the Deep Starve for Months as Revealed by Marine Biologists

An image of a giant isopod from the Gulf of Mexico feeding on the carcass of an alligator.

Craig McClain and Clifton Nunnally researchers from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium recently carried out an experiment one and quarter miles at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. In the experiment, the dropped several alligators to the bottom of the ocean where they recorded a feeding frenzy of gigantic isopods.

Isopods are relatives of the crustacean species such as roly-polies and pill plugs. These creatures are can stay immobile for long and can even appear dead or in hibernation. However, once the chunks of meat reached the bottom, they were active to ingest as much of the food as possible.

McClain and Nunnally noted that the creatures returned to their immobile state once they were satisfied. Once the isopods had their fill, they left the remainings of the alligators for other scavengers.

The observation made by the scientists was that the behavior portrayed by the creatures involved conservation of energy. The depth of the ocean hardly has enough food for such creatures and such windfalls rarely occur. Thus, the isopods eat as much as they can and preserve the energy to last them for months.

The same findings also show how decomposition of large sea animals occurs in the ocean. Since the conditions at such depths cannot support bacterial life, it is the duty of the “bottom feeders” to consume every organic material that drops to the ocean floor.

Cait Logan

Cait Logan is a journalist, a regular editorial writer for the Journalist Observer, and a columnist for the Sun newspaper. She writes a weekly sports column giving readers insight into the happenings and internal working of the world of sports. She covers sports including tennis, golf, rugby, football, soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, snowboarding, cricket. She also contributes to the online sports magazine Kick. She has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University Of California, Los Angeles, and a bachelors in Journalism from Duke University. She also holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Journalism from Columbia University.

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