Lifestyle & Belief

Talk about a reefer fish: parasitic crustacean named after Bob Marley


A new Caribbean coral reef parasite has been named after Bob Marley.


Mark Kolbe

The Gnathia marleyi has a big name to live up to.

The tiny crustacean that lives in the eastern Caribbean coral reefs was named after the late reggae singer Bob Marley. 

"I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley's music," Paul Sikkel, the marine biologist at Arkansas State University who discovered the creature, said in a news release from the National Science Foundation. He added,"this species is as uniquely Caribbean as was Marley."

These little guys may not be as friendly as their namesake. 

LiveScience noted that juvenile gnathid isopods launch surprise attacks on fish, then infest them. As adults, the parasites don't eat. "We believe that adults subsist for two to three weeks on the last feedings they had as juveniles and then die, hopefully after they have reproduced," Sikkel said in a statement to LiveScience.

Sikkel and his colleagues believe that species like the Gnathia marleyi may serve as an indicator of coral reef health. MSNBC reported that coral degradation may create suitable habitats for parasites to attack their fish hosts. Those parasites may accelerate the decline of fish communities by transmitting blood-borne diseases.

According to The National Science Foundation, Marley isn't alone in the famously named species club. President Barack Obama, comedian Stephen Colbert and Elvis Presley all have species named after them. 

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