These carnivorous sea lice are eating human flesh

Leanna Commins
Photo credit: Hearst Communications, Inc. All rights reserved

From Cosmopolitan UK

OK, so the beach is cancelled. At least in Australia, because a teen Down Under just had his legs savaged by what experts believe (but are by no means sure) are FLESH-EATING SEA LICE. 16-year-old Sam Kanizay spent a half hour in the water at Dendy Street Beach in Brighton, Australia, and then: "I walked out and saw what I thought was sand covering my calf and shook it off," Sam told Australian news site ABC, and by the time I'd walked across the sand about to put my [flip-flops] on, I looked down and noticed I had blood all over my ankles," he said. Just FYI, the photos ahead get pretty gross.

Photo credit: Screencap via ABC

So he went home and took a cold shower, explaining that the cold water numbed his legs and stopped him from feeling any pain, only "pins and needles." It was only when the bleeding didn't stop, Sam's mum explained, that he went to hospital - with what his family had by then realised were many tiny pinpoint-sized wounds covering the bottom half of his legs.

Photo credit: Screencap via ABC/Jarrod Kanizay

"There was a massive pool of blood on the floor [at the hospital]. No one knows what the creatures are," Sam's father Jarrod told The Guardian. "They’ve called a number of people, whether it’s toxicity experts or marine experts and other medics around Melbourne at least... [and] yep, no one [knows].”

Well, no-one knows for sure. According to Australian newspaper The Age, some medical professionals and marine-life experts hypothesise the wounds are the result of marine parasites that feed on fish - and maybe humans?! - called sea lice (or marine isopods). "They're scavengers who'll clean up dead fish and feed on living tissue," University of Melbourne marine biologist Professor Michael Keough told The Age. "They're mostly less than a centimetre long, and so the bites they make are pretty small"

Photo credit: Screencap via ABC

Other experts think they might be "small scavengers called amphipods," though, as Alistair Poore, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales, told The New York Times. (Jeff Weir, marine biologist also told ABC he suspected amphipods, which target people who are standing or sitting still in the water. Apparently one time they even crawled into Weir's wetsuit while he was diving, he added, and "chewed away" at his face. ENOUGH, JEFF!)

Meanwhile, after returning to Dendy Street Beach with a net, Jarrod Kanizay believes he managed to capture some of the creatures responsible for his son's injuries. In a video he shared with The Guardian (watch at your own peril!!), he shows the terrifying, tiny sea lice feast on raw meat. "These little things really love meat," he told The Associated Press.

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