In a logical picture of the food chain, big creatures consume the smaller ones. In a whale-and-shrimp scenario, it's the tiny shrimp that eats the humongous whale.
When whales die, shrimp are in for a feast. As a whale's carcass hits the bottom of the seafloor, specific types of little shrimp scurry to take a bite, and more.
Researchers at England's National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton set out mackerel bait and descended the traps into the ocean floor off the coast of southwest Ireland, and discovered two new submarine shrimp-like species later found to feed off of the flesh of dead whales. The discovery came along with 40,000 amphipods, and the two species have now been added to the more or less 9,500 amphipod species.
In a paper published in the online journal ZooTaxa, the researchers describe the two new amphipod species, named genera Haptocallisoma and genera Paracallisoma.
"I gave the species name 'lemarete' to one of the amphipods because it translates from Greek to 'Bold and Excellent,' which is the motto of Roger Bamber's coat of arms," said the study's lead author Tammy Horton from the NOC. Hampton said the name best describes both Roger and the little cryptic.
Horton also explained that amphipods are vastly diverse and adaptable. They can survive anywhere on shallow waters or in the deepest sea beds, in fresh water or on land.
Beyond the ocean waters, the species, which are only about 3 millimeters long, can settle as deep as 4,500 meters in the North Atlantic Ocean. The scavenging crustaceans move in swarms and can strip the carcasses of marine creatures, from whales to fish and even to seabirds.
The two new species were discovered along deep sea water nearest to the U.K. The same group of scientists also discovered similar creatures in a trip off the coast of Angola in West Africa for an environmental assessment for the oil and gas industries.
The NOC conducts integrated ocean research and develops technology from the coast to the deepest parts of the ocean. The Centre's major facilities, sustained ocean observations, mapping and survey, management of data and scientific advice provide its partners a long-term marine science capability.