On 14 February at Toba Aquarium, the giant isopod that captured the imaginations of a nation was found dead in its tank by keepers and media. This brings to an end the record-setting hunger strike No.1 had been waging since 2009.
Giant isopod No.1 was turned over to Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture on 9 September, 2007. For over a year the large pill-bug looking creature lived peacefully in the confines of the Aquarium. Although there is still a lot to learn about these creatures, they have built up a reputation for their voracious appetites.
No.1 too had seemed to be adjusted to its new environment. However, for some unknown reason on 2 January, 2009 its final meal was a 50g morsel of horse mackerel. Since then it refused to eat.
The man in charge of No.1 was dumbfounded by the stubbornness of this crustacean. At regular intervals he would try to offer some food to the creature to no avail. Over time the animal seemed to learn how to visually appease its human keepers by moving its mouth and front legs around the food pretending to eat. In the end, it never actually took a bite.
No.1’s keeper Takeya Moritaki began to invite members of the press to witness feedings in the hopes that one day this fast would end. But time and time again in front of an increasingly disillusioned group of photographers, No.1 would simply play with its food.
On Fundoshi Day, 2014 Mr. Moritaki readied his mackerel for his second attempted feeding of the year. In front of the press that still came out hoping “this time would be different,” he lowered the bait into the tank. Sadly, this time No.1 didn’t even feign interest in the food. It simply sat motionless.
Noticing something wrong, No.1 was lifted from the water and declared dead on the spot. On that day it had officially gone five years and 43 days without eating. This is quite possibly the longest period of time any animal had been observed to go without food and not in any form of suspended animation.
Research is underway on the remains of No.1 in the hopes of discovering why it never ate and anything else about the lives of these elusive creatures. Meanwhile, the makers of the giant isopod iPhone case are expecting a major spike in profits following this celebrity’s death.
Today is a sad day for crustaceans the world over.