The tiny crustacean is a type of gnathiid isopod and has distinctive physical and biological characteristics from the other 14 members of the genus, per the University of Miami and the team’s research paper in the Bulletin of Marine Science. During its juvenile stage, the minuscule creature feeds off the blood of fish at night, like a mosquito, while the adults live on the ocean floor.
Jimmy Buffett, who died on September 1, 2023, has been linked with the Florida Keys since the 1970s, while his music — most famously his hit song “Margaritaville” — celebrated the tropical lifestyle. Sikkel and the other University of Miami researchers were big Buffett fans and didn’t mean any disrespect by naming the parasite after Buffett. “By naming a species after an artist, we want to promote the integration of the arts and sciences,” Sikkel said in the news release. The team has also named a related species after Bob Marley called Gnathia marleyi. Besides Buffett and Marley, other musicians have been similarly honored, including Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead — Lemmysuchus, an ancient crocodile — and Joe Strummer from the Clash, Alviconcha strummeri (a deep sea snail).