Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thirteen and a half legs.

A couple of weeks ago, in a bundle of tossed-up eelgrass from Boundary Bay, I brought home a pair of large, brown isopods. (About 1 1/2 cm. long, 2/3 of an inch.)

They cling strongly to the leaves, so firmly that I couldn't shake them off, nor brush them off without damaging them. When I put them in the tank, however, the male let go and started swimming. They're good swimmers, lying on their backs and paddling with little flaps under the belly. The legs stay off to the side, ready to grab whatever they touch.

Unfortunately, he came too close to the nose of Mr. C, the alpha crab. He was promptly caught and eaten by the entire community. His mate, more cautious, is still safe in the weeds.

Female isopod, possibly the surfgrass isopod.

These are fourteen-leggers, with 7 legs on either side. All the legs serve the same function, mostly crawling and grabbing. They are slow-moving; this female is content to stay all day on one leaf, barely even waving a tentacle. But of course, she's busy babysitting. After she is impregnated by the male, she holds her young under her belly until they are ready to start life as miniature isopods.

You can see these babies underneath her body, here ...

See the sharp hook on the first leg? And the others hooked under the leaf? No wonder they grab on so well! Note; one leg and one antenna are broken. More on that, later.

And now, I must go. It's snowing, and I have to drive downtown in the morning. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Very interesting saga, and thanks for posting on marine isopods--a rare treat. =)


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