Watch 'Sea Lice' Devour an Entire Pig in Just Days

Courtesy National Oceanography Centre
Courtesy National Oceanography Centre / Courtesy National Oceanography Centre

The shrimp-like ocean scavengers sometimes referred to as “sea lice” are a sight to behold. Generally less than 10 millimeters long, they cleanse the ocean by scavenging the remains of dead whales, fish, and seabirds—and they do it very effectively. 

In the name of science, researchers from Simon Fraser University in Canada lowered two dead pigs into the ocean off the coast of Vancouver to see how long it would take the tiny scavengers to devour them. One was placed in a cage because the area sees a lot of shark activity. It's this pig you see in the video.   

The researchers write that “the carcass was colonized within minutes by small arthropods called amphipods, or 'sea lice'. These rapidly became several centimeters thick on the body and entered the carcass via the orifices, eating it from the inside out. The amphipods became so numerous that they covered the entire cage and bars.”

The sea lice stripped the stocky pigs down to bare bones in just days. After they had their fill, a troupe of three spot shrimp finished the job by removing the remaining cartilage. Even a curious octopus investigated the remains, but by then the scattered bones were virtually bare.   

Eek! Cool! Watch it happen! 

Warning: You are about to watch a dense swarm of creatures devour a dead mammal. It is not for the faint of stomach.