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. Obufs8r

    So how do they taste?

    Do these marine scientists keep a barbeque on deck? A deep fryer?

    February 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Boh

    Searching for foot-long cockroaches? Just go to Florida!

    February 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. H. B.

    When I saw the creature, the first thing I thought of was how would it taste in a scampi or stirfry?

    What puzzles me is how such giants can be found so deep. This creature is probably a bottom-feeder, and that food sifts down from above. Still, I have to wonder what it is in such deep-sea food stores that can let a creature achieve such heroic proportions, while others, higher up, don't? Is it because there is more food? Or fewer competing animals at such depths? It's hard to figure how the abyssal deep can not only feed creatures capable of living under such pressure, but that they can actually flourish and grow into giants, yet. Wish I knew.

    This is fascinating. All aside from my culinary yearnings.

    But I really wish the bible-thumpers would keep it where it belongs: the home, the heart and the house of worship. We don't need it in areas where it is out of place. It's spamming, pure and simple. Also intrusive. Keep religion OUT of our faces and our politics!

    @nuh asks: "So then where did ampiphods come from?" They came from other creatures, dude. As all creatures do, going back to the time when life formed in the first place. Read some books to tell you about how it happened. Don't expect me to educate you. Why don't people READ books any more?

    Wouldn't it be great, though, if these creatures could be cultivated and become a respected part of our food chain? I'm already envisioning recipes... I had prawns once in a good restaurant. Once. They were as big as my hand, and I have never enjoyed shrimp as much before or since.

    In a hungry world, it doesn't seem we can afford to overlook creatures like this as potential food. But scientists need to have ALL the room they want to study them, too.

    So now, I'm going to fix dinner – a hamburger. While I'm drooling for shrimp.

    February 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Food

    How about BBQ and heat up FIRE or camp fire that shrimp?

    Add butter, garlic, and spice all over that giant shrimp. This shrimp could sell hotcakes if they taste better than lobster.

    February 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anderson Cooper

    Wow amazing I might have to put this on my show!

    February 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ed

    A new menu addition at Red Lobster

    February 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ulvalactuca

    They're called AMPHIPODS.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Granny

    Nature's solution to performance enhancing drugs! This may be the answer to world hunger! Like a potatoe chip, can't eat just one.

    February 7, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Granny

    See a new book in progress: The little shrimp that could

    February 7, 2012 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    Fry one of those babies up with a side of mashed potato and a basket of cheddar bay biscuits. YUM!

    Okay, I was just kidding. Those things are kind of scary looking.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. rtbrno65


    February 7, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sunflower

    Are these freaky things edible???? I mean since they're not technically a "shrimp"......

    February 7, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. SmarterthanU

    Foodies are great – funny post.

    February 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guy


    February 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. max

    It is a shame, in 2012 we are still talking about abusers settlers, who invaded England and return to a European island that is south america, please appeal to logic, these islands are Argentine geographically .. do not see why you would type a new war, nobody wins in war

    February 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
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