• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

‘Mini-shark’ bugs causing big problems for Californians feet

There’s a new threat to beachgoers in Southern California: swarms of tiny, aggressive sea bugs that love to feast on the flesh of human feet.

Beach goers in Southern California are being targeted by swarms of tiny, aggressive sea bugs who have an appetite for human feet, who gather in the shallow water of the Pacific Ocean. 

The water-line isopods, which have been dubbed “mini sharks,” have been identified as the culprits. According to Walla Walla University in Washington, the bugs are water-line isopods (Excirolana chiltoni), a crustacean species that grows to be approximately 0.3 inches long and can produce swarms of more than 1,000 animals.

The water-line isopod can form swarms  of the sea bug 1,000 strong. (Hakai Institute)
The water-line isopod can form swarms of the sea bug 1,000 strong. (Hakai Institute)

The “mini-sharks” live in the Pacific Ocean and travel up and down the coast each season, much to the dismay of unsuspecting beach goers.
The “mini-sharks” live in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean and seasonally migrate up and down the coast leaving in their wake beach goers hopping in pain.

The bugs are attracted to bare feet, and they will bite into the flesh, drawing blood and causing pain. Although the bites are small, they can be very painful. Experts recommend that you shuffle your feet quickly to reduce the number of bites.

The isopods’ attacks, according to victims, are “painful” and “surprising,” as they appear like a group of tiny piranhas attacked their feet and ankles. Those who were attacked said the pain decreased after 15 to 20 minutes.

As of now, no warnings have been issued to swimmers at Southern California beaches.

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