cryptoniscus stage of a parasitic isopod
Location: North Inlet, SC, in a saltmarsh creek; Summer 2006
Notes: Total length = 1.3 mm. This small isopod resembles a harpacticoid copepod at first glance, but the similar and typical isopod legs ( seven pair) and the lateral eyes give it away.
Parasitic isopods of the Suborder Epicarida have a complex life cycle involving multiple stages and several hosts. The free-swimming ‘cryptoniscus’ stage stage attaches to the definitive (final) host, often a decapod crustacean. Cryptoniscids are not uncommon in nearshore waters, but are seldom abundant.
Collected by W. S. Johnson, Goucher College