Image of deep-sea crustacean with black background.
(K.J. Osborn)

This hyperiid is one of twenty-four species in the genus Vibilia, distinguished by the paddle-like antennae on the front of its head. Vibilia are small (only 5-20 millimeters long) and their eyes are the irregular oval shapes in this image. “We typically find them in large numbers scurrying around inside colonies of salps, planktonic barrel-shaped tunicates that filter seawater as they drift through the mid ocean,” explains Karen Osborn, a researcher in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology. “They essentially function as benthic animals since they live their whole lives crawling over some other animal," Osborn says. Instead of crawling on the sea floor, as is typically the case for benthic animals, these hyperiids live their lives on the surface of another animal in the middle of the water column.