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Enormous 'Cockroaches' from the Ocean Invade Albuquerque

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Giant isopods are on display at the BioPark Aquarium.

Enormous 'Cockroaches' from the Ocean Invade Albuquerque

A giant isopod in the hagfish tank. Photo courtesy of ABQ BioPark.

September 13, 2013

Emerging from the ocean depths, a pair of giant isopods (Bathynomus giganteus) are the newest animals at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium. These large crustacean scavengers from the Gulf of Mexico are on display in the Hagfish Exhibit, near the Shark & Ray Encounter and South Pacific Gallery. No matter how rainy it is this weekend, you can stay dry while on a watery adventure with the weird and wonderful animals at the Aquarium.

More closely related to crabs and shrimp than cockroaches, these crustaceans can grow up to 16 inches long and weigh as much as 4 pounds. Giant isopods scavenge for dead fish and food particles in the cold waters near the ocean floor. They will also eat slow moving animals like urchins, and can sometimes catch live fish.

"These bizarre-looking animals are a fun addition to the hagfish exhibit," said Holly Casman, Aquarium Manager. "Like the slimy hagfish, giant isopods play an important role as clean-up crew, eating dead fish and whales from the ocean bottom. People don't get to see them very often, so we're excited to have them in the Aquarium."

Giant isopods are also closely related to the roly-poly pillbugs found in backyards, gardens and compost piles. Like pillbugs, the giant isopods can roll into a ball for protection when threatened. For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).

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