Sea bug attack: Why was a wading teenager left covered in blood?

Amphipods feed largely on dead marine animals such as fish and crabs, and are themselves prey for larger marine animals

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Sea bug attack: Why was a wading teenager left covered in blood?

What could leave a person’s ankles and feet covered in blood as they stood, unaware of what was happening, in shallow water on a popular beach?

Images of 16-year-old Sam Kanizay’s injuries in Melbourne, Australia, have seized attention around the world.

His father, Jarrod Kanizay, said his son had arrived home with what “looked like a war injury” after soaking his legs in Melbourne’s Brighton Beach following a football game.

Experts believe the multiple pin-prick injuries were most likely tiny bite marks.

Mr Kanizay said doctors could not say for certain, so he returned to the bayside beach and used pieces of steak to capture “thousands of these little mite-type bugs”.

“I collected these strange creatures from the same spot last night by trapping them in a net and standing in the water myself,” he told.

Mr Kanizay sent samples to marine biologists at Museums Victoria, who identified them as a species of crustacean called the amphipod, or sea flea, mostly likely from the lysianassidae family.

However another expert, Dr Murray Thomson from the University of Sydney, said he believed the creature was another type of crustacean, an isopod called cirolana harfordi.

Amphipods feed largely on dead marine animals such as fish and crabs, and are themselves prey for larger marine animals.

“If we did not have them, we would have a sea full of dead fish and dead birds,” Dr Genefor Walker-Smith, the marine biologist who viewed Mr Kanizay’s sample, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Dr Thomson said isopods also eat mainly dead fish and marine worms, as well as living fish.

Both amphipods and isopods are mainly active at night.

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