Introducing… Bathynomus giganteus (yes, you can eat it)

Here’s an interesting one. A commentor on Reddit posted the above photos (titled ‘My god, it’s a monster‘) along with the following text:

“I work for a Sub-sea Survey Company, recently this beast came up attached to one of our ROVs. It measures a wee bit over 2.5 feet head to tail, and we expect it latched onto the ROV at roughly 8500ft depth. Unfortunately, the e-mail that these pictures were attached to came from a contractor, and the ship he was operating from (and therefore location) is unknown, so I can’t tell you what part of the Earth this beast was living.

What is this, Reddit? Is it edible?”

Turns out the ROV managed to capture a giant isopod, Bathynomus giganteus. Fortunately, these creatures live between upto 2000 metres deep, and tend to hang out between 365 and 730metres (i.e. not commonly encountered in our realm). From the entire Wikipedia article, this is definitely my favourite line:

When a significant source of food is encountered (in captivity), giant isopods gorge themselves to the point of compromising their locomotive ability.

So, can you eat it? Apparently (according to Wikipedia), they are definitely edible:

…in northern Taiwan and other areas, they are common at seaside restaurants, served boiled and bisected with a clean lateral slice. The white meat, similar to crab or lobster in texture, is then easily removed. The species are noted for resemblance to the common woodlouse or pill bug, to which they are related. The few specimens caught in the Americas with baited traps are sometimes seen in public aquaria.

Looks weird? No more bizarre than the Brisbane local delicacy, Moreton Bay bugs.

1 thought on “Introducing… Bathynomus giganteus (yes, you can eat it)

  1. Funny that so many people’s first inclination on seeing a new animal is to ask “can we eat it?” As an undergrad we had to examine one of these in our invert lab and of course, the first question was “How do they taste?”

    FWIW, Research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico pull these up from time to time and bored scientists have been known to eat them as well.

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