Organ-dwelling parasite is a Japanese aquarium star because it looks just like sushi

Organ-dwelling parasite is a Japanese aquarium star because it looks just like sushi
Michelle De Pacina
By Michelle De Pacina
October 8, 2021
An inch-long sea creature that looks like a piece of salmon sushi has become the star of a Japanese Aquarium. 
All about the sushi-shaped creature: The Aquamarine Fukushima, located on the east coast of Japan, identified the sushi-shaped creature as an isopod — an order of marine invertebrates (animals without backbones) that belong to the greater crustacean group of animals.
  • While there is not enough research on these isopods, they are known to belong to the genus Rocinela and are related to their crustacean family of crabs, shrimp, lobsters and the seafood you see in sushi restaurants, reported Vice World News
  • According to Mai Hibino, a caretaker at the aquarium, there are over 40 species of this genus.
  • The sushi-shaped creature, with its orange-and-white striped markings and white abdomen, is a parasite that inhabits other creatures’ internal organs and is usually brown. “Because they’re parasitic, we think maybe the color of the fish it was feeding on transferred,” Hibino said
  • The isopod was found near the coastal town of Rausu, on Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido, at a depth of 800 to 1,200 meters (2,600 to 4,000 feet), reported Live Science
Aquamarine Fukushima: The isopod has attracted more visitors to the aquarium after pictures of it were posted on Twitter in July
  • It went on display in late July but, due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Japan, the aquarium was forced to close for a while. While fans and staff were worried about the creature’s lifespan, it lived through isolation and welcomed back its visitors for the first time in two months last Friday. 
  • “We didn’t know how long we’d be able to put the animal on display, or if it’d even live. But it held out — it stayed alive for us,” Hibino said.
  • The Twitter post has received nearly 29,000 likes, compared to the average 500 earned by posts about its marine neighbors. 
  • “We had a lot more visitors come and say, ‘Wow! It really looks just like sushi!’” Habino added. 
Featured Image via @aquamarinestaff (left), Cath Smith (right)
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