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Isopods are Terrestrial Crustaceans but Not Primarily for Human Consumption

isopods or woodlice The isopods for sale in online stores of UK isopod breeders are large collections of various terrestrial breeds offered as “clean up crews” to animal keepers or as pets to hobbyists. Actually, there are terrestrial and deep sea isopods performing the same function of cleaning up natural wastes like fallen leaves, decaying wood and even rotting animal carcasses.

Most folks know them as woodlice, while others call them rolly polly but they are not insects. They are in fact the most diverse group of crustaceans in form and structure, largely related to the shrimp and lobster genus.

Despite the connection, isopod cultures are generally not a source of human food. Although some claim to have eaten isopods, which they say taste like shrimp meat. However, the tiny creatures have little to offer as meat ingredients.

Yet in Taipei City in Taiwan, a restaurant specialising in ramen dishes was featured by the South China Morning Post for serving a limited edition ramen dish that made use of giant deep-sea isopods as a special ingredient.

A Look at the Giant Deep Sea Isopod as Dream Ingredient of a Special Ramen Dish

The South China Morning Post shared a photo of a ramen bowl topped with the shell of a 14-inch alien-like creature, as a highlight of what the restaurant calls a “dream Ingredient.” According to the news report, the overall taste of the special edition dish was fresh and sweet as the giant deep sea isopod was large enough to provide white meat that tastes a lot like crab. Actually, the ramen restaurant used only the meat and the yellow gland, which the post described as having a taste similar to crab roe.

The ramen broth was practically a rich mix of fish and chicken stock enhanced with various dry, smoked bonito flakes. The latter ingredient accordingly gives the broth a savoury flavour of what Asians call the “umami” taste. The isopod shell on top of the ramen bowl is purely for decorative functions.

Profile of Giant Deep-Sea Isopods

deep sea giant crustaceansDeep-sea isopods have similar features like the terrestrial kind; but unlike the capsule-like structure of the latter, the deep-sea species have swimming limbs called pleopods. The pleopods are abdominal appendages that function for swimming and respiratory purposes. In female isopods, pleopods also function as egg-carriers.

What is most interesting about deep-sea isopods is that they tend to grow in gigantic proportions, which is a phenomenon common to most animals living in the deepest part of the ocean. Gigantic isopods are actually a rare fishing catch, which is one of the reasons why the ramen shop calls the 14-inch long isopod a “dream Ingredient.”

While the terrestrial isopods could grow up to 30 centimetres long, the largest deep-sea isopod could measure up to 16 inches long. The gigantism of the aquatic species is said to be their means of adapting to their deep ocean dwelling, as their large size allows them to withstand the intense pressure in deep ocean environments.

Giant isopods thrive by subsisting not only by scavenging for carcasses of dead sea creatures. They are also carnivores that feed on smaller species of fish, shrimps, sponges, crabs and squids,