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.


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. The 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.

FMCS 2015


Shown are (L to R): Trisha Gibson, Amy Weber, Caitlin Byrne, Jackie Halmbacher. Well-grounded in front: Ieva Roznere.

The Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology had a strong showing at the 2015 Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society Symposium held 22-27 March 2015 in St. Charles, Missouri, USA. Ieva Roznere won the Best Student Presentation at the meeting.

Contributed oral presentations:

Roznere, I., Watters, G.T., Wolfe, B.A., Daly, M. “Health assessment of relocated freshwater mussel Amblema plicata using metabolomics.”

Weber, A., Bauer, J., Watters, G.T. “Assessment of nutritional subsidies to freshwater mussels using a multiple natural abundance isotope approach.”

Anderson, R., Welte, N., Allison, J., Clayton, J., Douglas, B., Morrison, P., Watters, G., Boyer, A., Koch, L., McGregor, M., Fisher, B., Tiemann, J. “Cooperative recovery on a landscape scale: the reintroduction of Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana) and clubshell (Pleurobema clava) to sites in six states within their historic range.


Gibson, T., Halmbacher, J., Tiemann, J., Watters, G.T. “Egg laying in the pleurocerid Lithasia armigera (Say, 1821) – a winter’s tale.”