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What are these little critters?

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Taken in Cayman by Tepper.

 

402413_2583444462814_1155540086_32358816_2010060965_n.jpg

Edited by conchyjoe

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Seeing and photographing this shrimp for a couple years in waters around Grand Cayman, and not finding anyone to put a name to it, friends and myself enlisted help, got a collection permit , and went to work.

here is an article my friend Dr. Everett Turner wrote regarding the hunt, for UWP 52.

 

The Great White Footed Shrimp

Expedition

By Everett M. Turner Jr

 

 

 

"Our great white-footed shrimp

expedition was a quest to identify a

small-unknown shrimp. My wife, Essi

Evans and I have been avid fish and

critter watchers (and photographers)

since we started diving in 1987. One of

our favorite dive destinations is Grand

Cayman. That is where this story begins.

In February of 2009 we were diving

Sea Fan Reef, the house reef at Cobalt

Coast Dive Resort on Grand Cayman’s

North Wall. It is a great shore dive with

plenty of fish and lots of creatures,

common and uncommon; enough to

keep a photographer busy for a 2-hour

shore dive. While poking around near

the top of the mini-wall we noticed a

brown sponge with a number of little

-excruciatingly small, actually- whitefooted

shrimp sitting in the out pour

openings. I took a few photos and later

that evening we began our quest to

identify these critters.

Having no luck, the next day I

described them to any one who would

listen. No one had ever seen or heard

of them until I mentioned them to our

friend Cindy (Cynthia Abgarian). She

had seen and photographed them in

the past but had also had no luck in

identifying them. She was very keen to

know what they were. We soon moved

on to other subjects and other finds and

then we were back in Canada and back

to work, the shrimp mostly forgotten.

In June of 2009 we were once

again diving in Cayman and again we

found the shrimp in the same brown

sponge. The shrimp were not too shy

but appeared to dislike the bright light.

They were more active and more out

of the outpour opening when there was

cloud cover or later in the afternoon.

What you cannot tell from the photo is

how small these shrimp really are. They

are about the size of carpenter ants. They

also seem to be constantly associated

with even smaller white sponge worms.

More pictures were taken but still no

identification was made.

Upon return to Ontario, I decided

to send my shrimp photos to Les Wilk

of ReefNet, publisher of the DVD Reef

Fish Identification Florida, Caribbean

Bahamas. Les has often identified other

fish and critters for me. Les reported

back that he had seen other photos of

this shrimp but that he did not know

the identification/classification. He

forwarded the photos on to Dr. SammyDe Grave of the Oxford University Museum of

Natural History, Oxford, U.K.

Sammy wrote back: “It is either an undescribed

or non-colour recorded species of Periclimenes/

Cuapetes. People have promised me specimens

before, but none have materialised. Without an

actual specimen I cannot really be sure which, as

about 4-5 species in that genus in the Carib still

have no colour documentation.” This was now

getting exciting, the possibility of an undescribed

species and perhaps a chance to name it!

I contacted our friend and diving buddy, Dora

Valdez, manager at Cobalt Coast Resort and asked

her about the possibility of collecting specimens.

Having previously shown Dora the white-footed

shrimp, she was very keen to help. She contacted

Nancy Easterbrook, owner of Divetech dive

operation at Cobalt Coast Resort with whom we

have been diving for the last 9 years, to ask for

her assistance in contacting the Department of the

Environment (DOE) on Grand Cayman.

In short order we had a contact, Mr. Timothy

Austin of the DOE. Sammy agreed to contact

him and provide the necessary information and

credentials to obtain a permit to collect specimens

of our little white-footed shrimp.

While waiting for the permit, Dora- also an

avid photographer, set out to get some more pictures

of the shrimp. She enlisted Simon Dixon, friend,

fellow photographer, dive instructor at Divetech

and marine biologist in her quest. They found more

sites with the white-footed shrimp. In addition to

Sea Fan Reef, they found them at Lighthouse Reef,

Sand Hole, School House Reef, and a number of

other sites with shore and boat access. The shrimp

appeared to be always in the same type of sponge,

likely the Touch-Me-Not Sponge.

The Permit arrived very quickly, with very

specific details in regards to who was allowed to

collect, how many shrimp could be collected and

when and where they could be collected. And thus

began our expedition. The members were Essi,

Cindy, Dora, Simon and I. The permit was valid for

September 1 to November 1. We were allowed 6

specimens and they had to be collected outside of

marine zones. Collection took place in October.

Sammy sent us detailed instructions on

collecting, handling, processing and mailing the

specimens. Dora and Simon did some preliminary

scouting prior to Cindy, Essi and me arriving on

island. As we met to discuss our little shrimp

hunt expedition, we soon realized that Sammy’s

directions for collecting the shrimp (shoeing them

into a collection bottle) were not going to work,

as the shrimp seemed to stay within the sponges’

outpour openings. Cindy provided the capture

means, straws from Panera Bread and a 20cc

syringe.

Simon and Cindy were the collectors. Our first

attempt was successful and convinced us all, but

especially Simon, that the sponge was indeed the

Touch-Me-Not Sponge. Simon had decided to forgo

the syringe and just sucked up the shrimp through

the straw, not an easy task at 25 feet of seawater.

This worked well and we got a nice specimen;

however, Simon ended up with quite a burning

sensation in his mouth and on his lips and tongue

The rest of the collections were uneventful with the

syringe and straw.

We processed the specimens according to

instructions and Dora sent them on their way to

Oxford. We talked of our success in collecting

the white-footed shrimp and discussed what we

might name it if it were a new specimen as we all

anxiously waited for word from Sammy.

We were all back home when word arrived.

Sammy wrote: “Unfortunately for me, white foot

is not a new species. Sadly it is one of those

species for which the colour pattern has not

been documented fully. They are Periclimenes

harringtoni Lebour 1949 (Pontoniinae), still quite

an exciting find though. The species is only known

from two locations in the scientific literature:

Bermuda (type locality, single specimen, reported

by Lebour 1949) and Tortugas (4 specimens,

reported by Holthuis, 1951). Interestingly it seems

to have taken another 50+ years before found

again (your find). As far as I know no colour

photos of this beats [beast, sic] have ever been

published, Holthuis (1951) does give a short colour

description, which sort of matches, but omits the

white hands on the chelae. Anyway, it is that

species for certain, the morphology matches the

descriptions perfectly.”

”There may well be specimens in museums,

which have not been reported upon, but the

Smithsonian does not appear to have any.” And so

our little expedition to find and identify a hopefully

new species of shrimp ended, or so we thought.

It turns out that along with the white-footed

shrimp we had collected a few of the sponge

worms. Sammy sent these along with the photos of

the worms we had taken (actually shrimp photos

inadvertently showing the worms) to Leslie H.

Harris, Collection Manager, LACM-Allan Hancock

Foundation Polychaete Collection, Natural History

Museum of Los Angles County, and Los Angles

California. She is of the opinion that the worms are

an undescribed species and confirmation of this is

pending. So check your photos carefully, you never

know!"

 

 

Probably more than you ever wanted to know..:)

 

Merry Christmas

 

Quinn.. aka Cindy

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To me, that is actually very fascinating. Tepper maybe not so much!

 

I will let him know and point hi to the article.

 

Thank you!

 

Seeing and photographing this shrimp for a couple years in waters around Grand Cayman, and not finding anyone to put a name to it, friends and myself enlisted help, got a collection permit , and went to work.

here is an article my friend Dr. Everett Turner wrote regarding the hunt, for UWP 52.

 

The Great White Footed Shrimp

Expedition

By Everett M. Turner Jr

 

 

 

"Our great white-footed shrimp

expedition was a quest to identify a

small-unknown shrimp. My wife, Essi

Evans and I have been avid fish and

critter watchers (and photographers)

since we started diving in 1987. One of

our favorite dive destinations is Grand

Cayman. That is where this story begins.

In February of 2009 we were diving

Sea Fan Reef, the house reef at Cobalt

Coast Dive Resort on Grand Cayman's

North Wall. It is a great shore dive with

plenty of fish and lots of creatures,

common and uncommon; enough to

keep a photographer busy for a 2-hour

shore dive. While poking around near

the top of the mini-wall we noticed a

brown sponge with a number of little

-excruciatingly small, actually- whitefooted

shrimp sitting in the out pour

openings. I took a few photos and later

that evening we began our quest to

identify these critters.

Having no luck, the next day I

described them to any one who would

listen. No one had ever seen or heard

of them until I mentioned them to our

friend Cindy (Cynthia Abgarian). She

had seen and photographed them in

the past but had also had no luck in

identifying them. She was very keen to

know what they were. We soon moved

on to other subjects and other finds and

then we were back in Canada and back

to work, the shrimp mostly forgotten.

In June of 2009 we were once

again diving in Cayman and again we

found the shrimp in the same brown

sponge. The shrimp were not too shy

but appeared to dislike the bright light.

They were more active and more out

of the outpour opening when there was

cloud cover or later in the afternoon.

What you cannot tell from the photo is

how small these shrimp really are. They

are about the size of carpenter ants. They

also seem to be constantly associated

with even smaller white sponge worms.

More pictures were taken but still no

identification was made.

Upon return to Ontario, I decided

to send my shrimp photos to Les Wilk

of ReefNet, publisher of the DVD Reef

Fish Identification Florida, Caribbean

Bahamas. Les has often identified other

fish and critters for me. Les reported

back that he had seen other photos of

this shrimp but that he did not know

the identification/classification. He

forwarded the photos on to Dr. SammyDe Grave of the Oxford University Museum of

Natural History, Oxford, U.K.

Sammy wrote back: "It is either an undescribed

or non-colour recorded species of Periclimenes/

Cuapetes. People have promised me specimens

before, but none have materialised. Without an

actual specimen I cannot really be sure which, as

about 4-5 species in that genus in the Carib still

have no colour documentation." This was now

getting exciting, the possibility of an undescribed

species and perhaps a chance to name it!

I contacted our friend and diving buddy, Dora

Valdez, manager at Cobalt Coast Resort and asked

her about the possibility of collecting specimens.

Having previously shown Dora the white-footed

shrimp, she was very keen to help. She contacted

Nancy Easterbrook, owner of Divetech dive

operation at Cobalt Coast Resort with whom we

have been diving for the last 9 years, to ask for

her assistance in contacting the Department of the

Environment (DOE) on Grand Cayman.

In short order we had a contact, Mr. Timothy

Austin of the DOE. Sammy agreed to contact

him and provide the necessary information and

credentials to obtain a permit to collect specimens

of our little white-footed shrimp.

While waiting for the permit, Dora- also an

avid photographer, set out to get some more pictures

of the shrimp. She enlisted Simon Dixon, friend,

fellow photographer, dive instructor at Divetech

and marine biologist in her quest. They found more

sites with the white-footed shrimp. In addition to

Sea Fan Reef, they found them at Lighthouse Reef,

Sand Hole, School House Reef, and a number of

other sites with shore and boat access. The shrimp

appeared to be always in the same type of sponge,

likely the Touch-Me-Not Sponge.

The Permit arrived very quickly, with very

specific details in regards to who was allowed to

collect, how many shrimp could be collected and

when and where they could be collected. And thus

began our expedition. The members were Essi,

Cindy, Dora, Simon and I. The permit was valid for

September 1 to November 1. We were allowed 6

specimens and they had to be collected outside of

marine zones. Collection took place in October.

Sammy sent us detailed instructions on

collecting, handling, processing and mailing the

specimens. Dora and Simon did some preliminary

scouting prior to Cindy, Essi and me arriving on

island. As we met to discuss our little shrimp

hunt expedition, we soon realized that Sammy's

directions for collecting the shrimp (shoeing them

into a collection bottle) were not going to work,

as the shrimp seemed to stay within the sponges'

outpour openings. Cindy provided the capture

means, straws from Panera Bread and a 20cc

syringe.

Simon and Cindy were the collectors. Our first

attempt was successful and convinced us all, but

especially Simon, that the sponge was indeed the

Touch-Me-Not Sponge. Simon had decided to forgo

the syringe and just sucked up the shrimp through

the straw, not an easy task at 25 feet of seawater.

This worked well and we got a nice specimen;

however, Simon ended up with quite a burning

sensation in his mouth and on his lips and tongue

The rest of the collections were uneventful with the

syringe and straw.

We processed the specimens according to

instructions and Dora sent them on their way to

Oxford. We talked of our success in collecting

the white-footed shrimp and discussed what we

might name it if it were a new specimen as we all

anxiously waited for word from Sammy.

We were all back home when word arrived.

Sammy wrote: "Unfortunately for me, white foot

is not a new species. Sadly it is one of those

species for which the colour pattern has not

been documented fully. They are Periclimenes

harringtoni Lebour 1949 (Pontoniinae), still quite

an exciting find though. The species is only known

from two locations in the scientific literature:

Bermuda (type locality, single specimen, reported

by Lebour 1949) and Tortugas (4 specimens,

reported by Holthuis, 1951). Interestingly it seems

to have taken another 50+ years before found

again (your find). As far as I know no colour

photos of this beats [beast, sic] have ever been

published, Holthuis (1951) does give a short colour

description, which sort of matches, but omits the

white hands on the chelae. Anyway, it is that

species for certain, the morphology matches the

descriptions perfectly."

"There may well be specimens in museums,

which have not been reported upon, but the

Smithsonian does not appear to have any." And so

our little expedition to find and identify a hopefully

new species of shrimp ended, or so we thought.

It turns out that along with the white-footed

shrimp we had collected a few of the sponge

worms. Sammy sent these along with the photos of

the worms we had taken (actually shrimp photos

inadvertently showing the worms) to Leslie H.

Harris, Collection Manager, LACM-Allan Hancock

Foundation Polychaete Collection, Natural History

Museum of Los Angles County, and Los Angles

California. She is of the opinion that the worms are

an undescribed species and confirmation of this is

pending. So check your photos carefully, you never

know!"

 

 

Probably more than you ever wanted to know.. :)

 

Merry Christmas

 

Quinn.. aka Cindy

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To me, that is actually very fascinating. Tepper maybe not so much!

 

I will let him know and point hi to the article.

 

Thank you!

 

 

Very fascinating!! It is hard to communicate how small these things are-- i compared them to the size of the tip of a pencil (although carpenter ant makes more sense given the shape). Thanks for the input y'all. It is one of those critters that can only be found if you spend an entire 70 minute dive on one single sponge:)

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When Cindy and Everett brought this shrimp to my attention a couple of years ago, they noted that they were finding it only in touch-me-not sponges (Neofibularia notitangere). Since then I've made a point of looking inside touch-me-nots whenever I've gone diving in the Caribbean, and I have asked many others to do the same. I'm finding the shrimp inside about 25% of the sponges I check, and from the reports I've been receiving it's pretty clear that it has a very broad distribution in the tropical West Atlantic --- wherever you find the touch-me-not sponge. The main reason this shrimp is so "unknown" is that its body color perfectly matches that of its host environment, i.e. the inside of the sponge's excurrent opening, and its white claws (not mentioned in the original 1949 description, and unusually subdued in Tepper's photo) blend in perfectly with the white worms that live inside the sponge. When the worms are out you'll have a hard time seeing the shrimp. Another reason is that divers are told to keep away from touch-me-not sponges, which is not a bad suggestion.

 

This is a great example of how underwater photographers can contribute to the advancement of science. The colors of preserved specimens can differ greatly from life colors, for two reasons: the specimens are dead, and they have been immersed in preservative. Both can cause dramatic color changes. Underwater photographers can supply not only the missing color information, but also accurate information about habitat, behavior, and geographical distribution.

 

Thanks to Cindy and Everett and their friends, Periclimenes harringtoni has been "resurrected" after 60 years of obscurity, and now has a common name --- the "whitefoot shrimp". Look for it.

 

Les Wilk

Edited by reefnet

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Certainly knowing where to look, and happening to have a 50mm or 100mm macro AND a +10 is as beneficial as know to check every touch me not I swim by.

 

Now if I can remember what a touch me not looks like.. :)

 

Very cool stuff

 

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

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Certainly knowing where to look, and happening to have a 50mm or 100mm macro AND a +10 is as beneficial as know to check every touch me not I swim by.

 

Now if I can remember what a touch me not looks like.. :)

 

Here are two photos of a touch-me-not sponge.

 

post-3232-1324838885.jpg

 

post-3232-1324838905.jpg

 

Here are two more photos of the shrimp. I took the first one in Dominica inside the sponge, Ray Haberman took the second in St. Vincent on the outside surface of the sponge. It is rarely out of the sponge.

 

post-3232-1324838942.jpg

 

post-3232-1324838965.jpg

 

Les Wilk

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