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Mysterious sea creatures that began eating a teenager's legs in Australia were identified as "sea fleas" on Monday.
The incident occurred near Melbourne on Saturday, when 16-year-old Sam Kanizay emerged from an evening dip in the ocean with his legs and feet covered in blood, the result of the considerable appetite of the flesh-eating tiny creatures.
Unable to walk, the teenager was brought to a hospital suffering from "pin-sized holes" that were bleeding profusely.
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At first, experts were left scratching their heads as to what the meat-loving animals these were. "No one knows what the creatures are. 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)," Sam's father Jarrod Kanizay said, quoted in local media.
Kanizay went back to the beach with a pool net full of meaty bait to attract the creatures, and filmed them. "What is really clear is these little things really love meat," he quipped as the animals devoted their attentions to the steak.
Thanks to his video, experts were able to confidently identify the creatures as lysianassid amphipods, a type of scavanger shrimp-like crustacean commonly known as "sea fleas."
But experts considered the episode unusual. "Sea lice normally go after dead or dying animals—they bite humans too but not as severe as this case," Richard Reina, associate professor at Monash University's School of Biological Sciences said, the Herald Sun reported. "I suspect the reason why the wounds were so intense was because he was standing still for so long and his legs went numb."
The teenager is recovering in hospital and is in "good spirits," his father told Fairfax Media, hoping that their bizarre experience was a one-off.