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. Joseph

    So much Ocean, imagine what we havent even seen yet.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    I didn't say great. I said common.So there.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. christine

    Shoo, im a female shrimper in texas.. I would sure like to catch a shrimp that big here.. oh lalal.. to bad theres not enough to make a market for them.. they would sell quick.. Wonder what they taste like??

    February 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheLostSurveyor

      The tiger shrimp recently found in the Gulf are about the same size. I grew up near Galveston. I too love shrimp. ONLY Gulf shrimp though. That farm raised stuff has no flavor. Speaking of flavor. I wonder how these guy's taste. Do you know anyone with a net that drops to over 4 miles? LOL

      February 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bookgirl

    That's a lot of shrimp scampi!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aj

    “It’s a bit like finding a footlong cockroach.”


    February 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Stir fry anyone? Yum!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gman999

    Classic Oxymoron!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    Something to add. For all those that think we should be studying these creatures, that's fine. You study them while the rest of us eat.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. VinoBianco


    February 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. UsayWha?

    some Old Bay and 30 minutes of steam would do that shrimp some good!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      Shrimp take about 5 minutes or less to cook. If you are cooking them for 30 minutes, you are cooking them WAY TOO LONG!

      February 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joan

    Please don't kill it!!

    February 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scrumps

    I'm not an animal loving loon or anything (steak tastes great) – But I find it kind of strange that after finding an obviously super rare new creature that our first instinct is to catch, kill, and study it.

    I bet the super shrimp would have preferred to have been left alone...or AT LEAST eaten.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheLostSurveyor

      Who said it was rare? That's an assumption on your part. Odds are thier are millions if not billions of these things down there. We really have no idea because we are so limited in our knowledge of the deepest parts of our oceans.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1234

      I'm with you Scrumps! Live and let Live.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mana


    February 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jt

    Baguio City, Philippines Island, 1976. Had one for dinner there, that was larger than that.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Well, tell us…how did it taste?!

      February 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Unlikely. They are a deep sea creature, and the local fishers wouldn't be getting it. But not impossible. Unknown species sometimes do show up in fish markets in the Asia/ Pacific.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. i_know_everything

    nom nom nom

    February 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
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