Blood-sucking marine vampire-zombies from Belize

Rocinella signata. Fromo Brusca, R. C., V. Coelho and S. Taiti. 2001. A Guide to the Coastal Isopods of California.

Rocinella signata. From Brusca, R. C., V. Coelho and S. Taiti. 2001. A Guide to the Coastal Isopods of California.

vampires

A scene of carnage. Bay side of Ambergris Cay, Belize.

You’re snorkeling through the warm, clear waters of Belize, minding your own business. When suddenly… the very sand beneath you stirs. A cloud of rabid, arthropoid Denizens of Hell rise up. Perhaps a hundred. And they are after you. Such was the horror that unfolded when I was working on the western Atlantic smooth cockles, Laevicardium. Who knew that the facultative parasitic isopod Rocinella signata attacks humans?* The ghastly beasts attach and instantly pierce your flesh to suck blood.┬áThe experience is pretty much like stirring up a swarm of underwater hornets: attacked from every angle, constant stinging, bleeding from numerous wounds, swatting the vermin in slow motion…

The good news was that the area yielded a new species of Laevicardium, now being described. But I won’t be going back for more.

*Actually, there are several published reports of their taste for human blood.

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