MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – Beach-goers across Rhode Island are reporting an infestation of bug-like marine critters in the water from Westerly to Middletown that’s making it difficult to go swimming.

State officials told The Providence Journal the creatures are crustacean isopods, which are reddish brown, about a half-inch long and look like tiny shrimp.

Health officials say there are no known illnesses associated with the critters and they don’t appear to bite, but people may want to shower after swimming because the isopods’ hard shells and scaly legs may irritate the skin.

Officials say isopods occur naturally in salt water and hatch in algae, and it’s not uncommon for them to appear in late July and August. They say the problem might be due to many days of little wind and low surf.


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