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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sea Things #16: Spotted Cleaner Shrimp

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

Despite maybe looking larger in the photo, these little guys are very small, about an inch to an inch and a half, max. Their scientific name is Periclimenes yucatanicus. They are a type of shrimp that does what many shrimps do in the Caribbean - clean fish. They live all around the Caribbean, but we have seen them most frequently in Bonaire - especially off of Klein Bonaire, where the photographs on this post were taken. The shrimp live in anemones, and wave their little antennae around to basically kind of flag down fish. A fish will swim over and the shrimp will clean them of dead skin, parasites and other particles. This is what the cleaner shrimp eats. It works out perfectly for both the shrimp and the fish. Occasionally, you will see them clean divers, but that happens more frequently with Pedersen shrimp, which I will chronicle in a later Sea Things.

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp are pretty much translucent and I think they're quite pretty. They are definitely one of the things that divers will sometimes miss if they fly over the reef too quickly.

Shrimp have a diver's signal of putting your thumb and index finger together. Honestly, crab, eel and shrimp all look very similar when it comes to hand signals, so I generally figure I'm going to see one of the three when I come upon someone making the hand signal. Usually, a diver will make a sign for "small" with their thumb and index finger if it's a tiny shrimp.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

1 comment:

Joshua Zimmerman said...

I once spent most of one whole dive with my face planted in a single anemone, taking photos of shrimp. I just love them.

To be honest, I find the small things in the ocean far more interesting than the big things.

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