Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Nippy creatures that share your swim

Cirolana found at Island Bay. Photo credit 	Niel Bruce
Cirolana found at Island Bay. Photo credit Niel Bruce

Nippy creatures that share your swim

There you are at the beach this summer. The water is cool and inviting. You go in for a dip. Then something small nips you. Most people would immediately blame a crab but it could be sea louse – a marine isopod! Isopods are a type of crustacean, like a garden slater. Some of the marine ones nibble on seaweed but sea lice also like eating animals, especially dead animals.

In New Zealand the incidence of people getting ‘nipped’ is actually rather low, even though sea lice are found in intertidal, rocky and sandy shores all around the country.
They are more of a minor nuisance than a real danger to humans.

Worldwide there are 450 species of sea lice and beach lice, also known as cirolanid isopods, but ours are not well documented.

In New Zealand, 17 species in six genera have been recorded, but some of the species that are common around our shores have yet to be described. NIWA biodiversity scientist Dr Dennis Gordon remarks that about 370 species of marine isopods have been named and described out of an estimated 1000 species.

Dr Niel Bruce, Senior Curator at the Queensland Museum says, “It is thought that the intertidal cirolanids on beaches are a species of Pseudaega, a genus endemic to New Zealand and found on suitable sandy beaches around New Zealand. The genus Eurylana also occurs on sand beaches, but it is thought to prefer more subtidal, deeper habitats.”

On rocky shores, such as Island Bay in Wellington, the species Cirolana kokuru is common, at times abundant. This species reaches 1cm in size and could be what nips you when you are kneeling on the rocky shore at low tide, especially on a late afternoon rising tide.

Cirolana kokuru was once involved in a police investigation of a tragic multiple murder–suicide. When the bodies were found, these isopods had chewed their way into the corpses.

A single trap set overnight can yield as many as 30,000 individuals, which suggests that cirolanids must be of some ecological significance and finding them on the corpses hints at what that might be.

“These beautiful creatures are marine garbage cleaners,” says Dr Bruce. “These scavengers are important in maintaining the general health of ecosystems, particularly through cleaning up dead animal matter.”
ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Meat Workers Union: Waitangi Mondayisation Flaunted By Large Employer Of Maori

At the AFFCO Talley owned meat plant in Rangiuru, the company has resorted to bullying and threats... saying they could be disciplined and their union sued for an unlawful strike if workers exercise their rights to a paid day off tomorrow. More>>

Earlier:

ETS Review: Modelling Documents Released

Three technical documents are being released to help New Zealanders engage with the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) review, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>

ALSO:

Northland: Govt Plan Targets Transport, Web, Maori Assets

The government has released a 10-year plan to attract investors and lift economic growth in Northland, a region that perennially underperforms the rest of the country even while being endowed with natural beauty, productive land, minerals, a potential workforce, scope for manufacturing, forestry and aquaculture, and proximity to Auckland. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.3 Percent

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter (from 6.0 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. There were 16,000 fewer people unemployed than in the September ... More>>

ALSO:

Three Kings: Govt To Oppose Appeal Blocking $1.2B Auckland Housing Plan

Environment Minister Nick Smith and Housing New Zealand have joined legal proceedings in support of Auckland Council and Fletcher Building opposing a bid by community groups to only allow low-rise housing in a $1.2 billion housing redevelopment on the disused site of the Three Kings quarry. More>>

ALSO:

Transport: Jetstar Expands Regional Network With Three New Routes

More New Zealanders than ever before will have access to Jetstar’s affordable flights when new services take off today from Auckland to New Plymouth and Palmerston North, and Nelson to Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news