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About harlequin shrimp


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#1 Matetes

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 01:12 AM

Hi
I'm not lucky with the harlequin shrimps.... I like them a lot, but I've never seen one (just the pics...).
I've just finished a trip to Milne Bay (good diving, BTW), but no harlequin shrimps...
I've been in a lot of those places where some of you, lucky boys, have found the harlequin shrimps (Bali, Raja Empat, Wakatobi, Manado etc...), buy no luck so far....
Now, I'm leaving for Truk in a couple of weeks, but I believe that Truk is not the best place for those elusive shrimps...
So, just curious, could you (the lucky guys) tell me where have you found the harlquin shrimps?
Thanks
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#2 Drew

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 02:41 AM

Ohhh I'm not sure you'll like the answers. I've personally seen harlequin shrimp in Thailand, various diving parts of indonesia, PNG various parts too, Philippines, Hawaii (Kona) and even Mozambique and the Maldives. They are distributed in the Indo-Pacific. I think they are just good at hiding. The best places I've found them every time I'd been was Bunama Beach in Milne Bay,Tulamben in Bali and elephant rock in thailand.

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#3 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 03:25 AM

Bali and Thailand have worked for me (apart from the Maldives I've not been to any of the other places that Drew has seen them). Although I have never travelled specifically to see them.

I would suggest looking for big metal things in Truk. You'll get the Harlequins when the time is right. I find the best pictures come from shooting what is common in the place you are visiting. You can waste a lot of dives hunting for a rare creature in one location and then on your next trip to another location that species is everywhere.

This was taken in Tulamben area in Bali last month:
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#4 frogfish

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 10:47 PM

You're right, Harlequin shrimps aren't as common as many other interesting reef crustaceans (and none are more photogenic). I've seen them in the Philippines, at Puerto Galera, and here in Bali. They're not just pretty - Harlequins are predators of crown of thorns starfish, though I've never seen or heard of anyplace with enough of these lovely shrimps around to exert any meaningful control of a COTS infestation.

In many dive locations, when Harlequins are found, it's not uncommon for the people who know about them to try to keep it a secret. Once the location is known to more than one guide or operator, it can be only a matter of time before there are groups of divers lined up to look at and photograph them, and the harassment can be enough to drive them away. Try turning your rig around to face you on the table, set the strobes for full dump, and fire them off in your own eyes a couple (or a couple of dozen) times, and it will be easy to see why.

But now for my favorite Harlequin shrimp story. Pedro, one of the excellent instructors/dive guides for Asian Divers at Puerto Galera, was taking a group of divers to the (sunken) floating dock, which was also the location of a very cute pair of Harlequins. Harlequins love Linckia sp. starfish, and can often be drawn out of their hole if offered a bit of tasteful blue leg. As the supply of Linckia in the immediate vicinity of the floating dock had diminished significantly since the Harlequins' appearance on the scene, Pedro had got into the habit of descending a couple of hundred meters away to find a nice treat for the shrimps.

This day, Pedro took his divers down, found a nice Linckia, and proceeded to lead his group to the dock, holding the starfish in front of him by two of its arms to reduce drag against the slight head-current. Reaching the dock, he took the starfish to the shrimps, who cooperatively came out and danced for the divers a bit. Then, after a quick tour of the other attractions of the site, led his group to do a blue-water ascent. On reaching the surface, one of the divers starting whooping and hollering, "That was FANTASTIC, UNBELIEVABLE, I've never seen ANYTHING like that before in my life."

"So you liked the Harlequin shrimps, did you?" asked Pedro. "Well, it's true, they are pretty amazing."

"What shrimps?" the diver replied. "You mean those little blue and white guys you showed us? No, I meant how you navigated all that way by following the middle arm of a starfish - you've GOT to show me how to do that."

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#5 Matetes

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 12:35 AM

Thanks Robert,
In my way back from Chuuk, i'll be able to spend a couple of diving days in Philippines.... Do you know something about Anilao? I've read it is a "muck diving" place and that harlequin shrimps can be found there...
Thanks
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#6 Drew

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:24 AM

Matetes
Anilao is 3 hrs from Manila by car. The premier muck place there is Basura. I'm in constant contact with the dive resort I use out there and they haven't reported any harlequin shrimp. But then again they aren't looking for them. I've seen them at Basura but usually in connection with a seastar boom. I just got a report from Marriard from wetpixel(who was there just 2-3 days ago) and he didn't get any HS either. They are pretty difficult to find due to their habitat, even though they stick out like sore thumbs.
If you need more info on diving in Anilao, just ask.

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#7 frogfish

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:26 AM

I haven't been to Anilao myself, but it's just across the Verde Strait (on the Luzon side) from Puerto Galera (which is on the north tip of Mindoro Oriental). These two areas are very close and it's not surprising that there seems to be quite an overlap in species, including unusual nudibranchs. Anilao may be a bit more "mucky".

In any case, I'm confident that Harlequins can be seen there, but that doesn't guarantee that you will. Their range is huge (from Hawaii though most or all of the IndoPacific), it's just that one doesn't often see them. You may be just as likely to see them at Chuuk as in Anilao. As scubadru said, they're probably just good at hiding.

You might try wearing a bright blue custom websuit that makes you look like a huge Linckia seastar. [Insert smiley here.] Seriously, since H. picta are obligatory, even voracious, predators of Asteroidea, and are particularly fond of Linckia sp and Nardoa sp., that might be a clue on where to look for them. Though I'm not sure whether the best strategy would be to focus on where seastars are, or where they aren't! A pair of tiny Harlequins can make a surprisingly big dent in the immediately local starfish population in a short period of time.

Even if you don't find a H. picta, all is not lost. Take a look at the underside of the next Linckia laevigata (the blue one) you see. You might find a beautiful Thyca crystallina, the lovely blue parasitic gastropod that lives on this star. If you haven't seen these before, I guarantee you'll be happy with the first one. Try a diopter added to your 105 to shoot these - they're very small.

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#8 Drew

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:37 AM

Robert
On pretending to be a big Linckia... what if they see it and call it the gigantic cousin from the deep to handle the big blue meal? :)
Also check your email, mr frogfish.

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#9 kthan

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 10:19 PM

Matetes, I too have been looking for them since i began diving years ago. Finally "found" mine in 3m of water in Tulamben, on my way to the wreck.

As Robert has mentioned, it is usually dive operator specific. I dove with Tulamben Wreck Divers.

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#10 ssra30

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 10:49 PM

In Thailand, they can be found around Richeliue Rock as well as around Phi Phi area. I also saw a pair in Lembeh, Indonesia recently.
A friend claimed that she saw a whole family earlier this year near Phi Phi, 7 in all on one rock. People seemed to see them around Richeliue quite often but I only saw one there once about 3 years ago and had not seen one there since then.
Posted Image
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#11 Drew

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 11:57 PM

SSRA30
The present location of the shrimps is west of the elephant head about 29m. Some idjut tried to cage them in with rocks but another ops let them out.

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#12 ssra30

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 12:24 AM

SSRA30
The present location of the shrimps is west of the elephant head about 29m. Some idjut tried to cage them in with rocks but another ops let them out.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks for the location. I will be in the Similans during the 2nd half of November and will look for them there. Hopefully nobody will remove them in the meantime.
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#13 shchae

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 04:35 AM

Hi,
I visit Anilao every month since 2003 & found a couple of Harlequin shrimp in 2004 (Got 1st place in a Korean diving megazine digital competition 2004) & found a baby one in February, 2005 & another one in August, 2005. It was all from same Basura point that Scubadru mentioned. I dove there again last week but, did not see one. My diving guide there is Mark who lives in Basura. Contact me for more details or want to get contacted when I find one.
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#14 Drew

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 10:49 AM

Sam
I'm going to be there in Jan. Am more interested in the flambouyants they have around there since they are more colorful than the lembeh variants. Please post your findings if you find something cool. I love the Basura bobbit worms... they stick 4" out without any baiting. I hope the nudibranchs pickup vs the last trip I was there.

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#15 shchae

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 04:10 PM

Trying one more time.... Now I got it. ( I had to reduce the size of pic)


Attached picture of HS I took in Basura on 9 Sept.,2005 (see exif).

This couple was kind of young & did not have color fully developed yet.

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#16 shchae

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 11:23 PM

One I found at Basura in late 2004. These guys were old & about 3 inch long. It had nice color + even had some seaweed on body. It was there for about 2 months & gone.
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#17 shchae

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 11:29 PM

Scubadru,

Flambouyants ? You mean 'fire urchin' like this one ? There are plenty
of them in Basura & many of them has shrimp like this one.

Sam

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#18 shchae

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 11:43 PM

Matetes/Scubadru,
Please, let me know as early as possible so that I can try to be there at same time. I think you should have good local dive master + good diving boat with experianced crew & I know them there.

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#19 frogfish

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 12:28 AM

When he mentioned "flamboyants", I suspect Scubadru was talking about flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi). They're real cute!

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#20 shchae

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 05:26 AM

Oh !

Must be this one. I saw one in Basura on 11 Aug.,2005 according to exif.

Sam

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