Breaking News
More () »

Tiny, underwater sea creatures biting feet in Mission Bay | What are they?

"I pulled my foot out. I had blood all over my foot. It was like small piranhas have bit me," said Sauvage.

SAN DIEGO — A tiny, underwater sea creature has been nibbling the feet of swimmers in Mission Bay.

San Diegan Tara Sauvage said she was walking along De Anza Cove when she decided to put her feet in the water to cool off. She didn't expect what came next. 

"It was painful! I was like uh! I jumped out of the water and this was so shocking. I had blood all over my foot and in between my toes," said Sauvage.

She said in a matter of seconds something bit her ankles and feet. 

"I pulled my foot out. I had blood all over my foot. It was like small piranhas have bit me," said Sauvage. 

Sauvage said after she rinsed her feet off, she felt fine after 10-15 minutes.

Still curious about the critters, she stuck her hand in the water today and right away a sea creature grabbed onto her finger. 

"Ow! It is starting to bite me! See it? Ew," said Sauvage. 

What are they?

"They are called excirolana chiltoni," said Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Ryan Hechinger. He said these crustaceans are here year round. 

"It is an isopod, a relative of roly-polys that live in ocean and in very shallow waters all the way up to Alaska and Japan. They are totally known to bite people. They really hang out in the water. They like to eat fresh meat like a dying animal or battered animal," said Hechinger. 

He says they aren’t harmful. In fact, he has been bitten by them many times. He says movement is a good way to get them to scatter.

"My recommendation is to not freak out, just if it bugs you, get out," he said.

He says it is okay to swim, just be cautious and don’t fret, adding we need these little creatures for the natural ecosystem. 

"They're nothing bad. They are  part of the natural ecosystem. What use are they? They eat dead fish so it doesn’t stink like dead fish in the water," he said.

WATCH RELATED: What are these mysterious mushrooms sprouting in San Diego? (Aug. 2022).

Before You Leave, Check This Out