Hoards of foot-biting mini-shark beach bugs terrorise horrified beachgoers

Feet-obsessed ‘mini-sharks’ have been chomping down on the soles of the feet of horrified beachgoers.

Swarms of aggressive sea-based insects similar to shrimp have been biting people on the ankles and below, leaving them jumping around in pain.

Local news outlets have said experts have now labelled the bugs as water-line isopods, common little critters that grow to around 0.8cm long.

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They move in huge packs, with swarms of the little beasts 1,000 strong according to research from Walla Walla University in Washington, USA.

If they chomp down on you they can draw blood, carrying a surprisingly powerful bite given their size.

However, scientists say they are not a major cause for concern, LiveScience reports.

CBS8 San Diegoreported on a first-hand account of one such attack on Sunday, August 28.

Speaking to the outlet, local woman Tara Sauvage, said: "I had blood all over my foot and in between my toes.

"It was like small piranhas had bit me."

She said that after a rinse off the pain had gone and she felt ok after between 10 and 15 minutes.

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Isopods are part of a group of insects related to the common woodlouse and their biggest varieties can grow to around a quarter of a metre long.

This particular variety, water-line isopods, are common along the California coast and can also be found on the north pacific coast towards Washington State and Canada.

Richard Brusca, an invertebrate zoologist at the University of Arizona told the Los Angeles Times in 1993: "They can be pretty nasty when they get going.

"They're like mini-sharks and will go for you like a wolf pack – however, their bites are more like a mosquito’s."

The creatures spend much of their time buried beneath the sand of shallow waters only coming out when the tide begins to recede.

Their ability to bite through flesh is so good that they have even been used by scientists to strip the flesh off of fish for them to study.


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