February 3rd, 2012
01:49 PM ET

'Supergiant' shrimplike creatures found off New Zealand

Scientists say they recently captured “supergiant” deep-sea crustaceans nearly a foot long the likes of which have rarely been seen in an ocean trench off New Zealand.

The seven amphipods measure about 28 centimeters (about 11 inches) long, which is 10 times the length of normal deep-sea amphipods and nearly three times the size of what are considered giant amphipods, Scotland’s University of Aberdeen said Thursday.

They are the biggest whole specimens of supergiants ever recorded, according to the university.

The team’s deep-sea cameras also caught footage of a supergiant that scientists estimated was about 34 centimeters (13 inches) long.

Though the creatures may remind observers of shrimp, amphipods are an order apart.

Scientists with the university and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research were looking for deep-sea snailfish when a trap made the unexpected catch.

“(After) the traps came on deck … I stopped and thought, ‘What on Earth is that?’ whilst catching a glimpse of an amphipod far bigger than I ever though possible,” the voyage’s leader, Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, said in a news release. “It’s a bit like finding a footlong cockroach.”

The capture was made about 7 kilometers (more than 4 miles) below the surface, the deepest point that supergiants have been found, the university said.

Supergiants were found a few times off Hawaii in the 1970s and 1980s but haven’t been reported since, according to the university.

The scientists will now try to determine whether the species they caught are the same as those found off Hawaii decades ago.

December 2011: Giant cannibal shrimp worry Gulf Coast watchers

October 2010: New fish species found deep below ocean surface

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Filed under: Animals • Nature • New Zealand
soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. Alex Gessong

    Whenever I lament that we haven't yet found life on other planets, scientists reveals new amazing lifeforms right here on Earth. Very cool!

    February 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. marat75

    You fools! Can't you recognize the children of Cthulhu?

    February 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    So how long before someone fishes the hell out of these shrimp? In 5...4...3...

    February 26, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kekoa

    In hawaii we catch these little creatures called sand flees or sand turtles.
    we catch them by digging in the sand next to the rocks.
    They look almost identical! check it out.

    February 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      What you are finding are called Mole Crabs and they are pretty much everywhere I've been up and down the east coast of the US mainland. very common.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pete

    Throw that puppy on the grill!

    February 27, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Gravitate

    ...chupacabra of the sea...

    February 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AndyM

    BBQ it and get some garlic/butter sauce to dip it in.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Diane Skolnique

    First, I read an article this morning about the giant penguins in New Zealand from thousands of years ago and now, this afternoon, giant amphipods. What next – mothra?

    February 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bogus Boggs

    Yummy!!
    Coming soon to a Red Lobster near you!!

    February 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. yeah i did

    baby lobsters.!!..As president i will not let you fire the grill much less eat one of those precious things

    February 29, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    They look delicious.

    March 1, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Shawn

    When do we eat?

    March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big Cat Daddy

    Too bad you can't eat them, BUT WAIT!!!.....someone, somewhere in Arkansas is trying to figure out how to prepare them NOW........still developing story

    March 2, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Barbecued of course.... : ))

      September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mark

    and they wonder if all those nuclear tests back in the 50's and 60's had any side effects on the wildlife in the area?

    September 10, 2013 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. James HM

    it looks like it should be clawing its way out of someones chest...

    September 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
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