Southern California has been plagued with tiny, aggressive sea bugs that eat human feet. Now, scientists finally identified the hungry culprit that has left many beachgoers in pain.
Scientists identified the bugs as water-line isopods officially known as Excircolana Chiltoni. Nicknamed “mini sharks,” these tiny crustaceans can grow to about 0.3 inches (0.8 centimeters) long and can form swarms of more than 1,000 bugs, according to Washington’s Walla Walla University.
The isopods tend to live in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean. They seasonally migrate up and down the coast in search of food.
The “mini shark” tends to go after human feet, biting into flesh and sucking blood. Like the animal itself, its bites tend to be small. However, individuals bitten by the crustacean can experience sharp pain.
“People attacked by the isopods describe the bite as being ‘painful’ and ‘surprising,’ noting how the bugs looked like a group of tiny piranhas had attacked their feet and ankles. Those attacked noted that the pain faded after 15 to 20 minutes,” reported Fox News.
Experts have recommended beachgoers to rapidly shuffle their feet to reduce the number of bites, although beachgoers are still likely to be bitten.
Authorities have not yet issued warnings against these tiny bugs. However, experts are asking people to be mindful of the mini shark.