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jdaley

Unkown Critter from the Bay Islands

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I was in Cayos Cochinos in the Bay Islands at the bottom of some massive coral heads where I found a number of holes in the sand. I thought they might be some mantis shrimp, since I had seen some earlier, but no this is what I found. Any idea what it is? I have not found reference to anything even close.

 

unkown_shrimp.jpg

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They're thalassinidean shrimp, relatives of ghost shrimp & mud shrimp. Most likely in the family Callianassidae, possibly genus Corallianassa. They form really extensive burrows and are nearly impossible to catach. I'm amazed you were able to grab an image before the critter disappeared down it's hole. Paul Osmond has pictures of the same species on www.deepseaimages.com site but it's incorrectly identified as a hermit crab if I remember right.

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Leslie,

 

Thanks for the ID. This guy was particularly cooperative and I was able to get several shots of him, however this was the furthest out of his hole he ventured. Before we he came into view, the divemaster tried sticking a long blade of sea grass down into the hole and had a tug-of-war with him. After a couple of tug and releases he came out, I guess to see what was going on.

 

James

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They are also very good bait. Their conspecific in San Diego can caught using a slurp gun at the beach.

 

Cheers

James

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yep, it's a callianassid, Corallianassa sp., as Leslie suggested, or Glypturus sp. (although in Glypturus cf. acanthochirus that we recently collected in Venezuela the claws were mostly red-orange, but there are other species around ..)

 

Corallianassa was placed in synonymy of Neocallichirus by Sakai, but most folks working with thalassinideans do not follow his scheme ..

 

there is a bunch of species in the W Atlantic .. but send me this picture in a higher resolution (I need eyes + rostrum area), maybe I can tell more .. (the genus at least)

 

by the way, these animals are not so shy as you may think - extremely cautious - but not shy, and can even be lured out of the burrow for a shot (not for a catch though) with a piece of seagrass or alga - I was actually playing with one in Fiji, the game consisted to pull a seagrass stem .. the shrimp comes out only to a sort of invisible safety line, once it reaches this line it releases the seagrass and moves back ..

 

cheers

Art

:P

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I just did a websearch - these guys are very cool! Apparently some species are "farmers" who collect & store seagrass & algae within their burrows in special chambers. As the seagrass decays the shrimp eat it. Judging by its burrow construction & behavior it might be Corallianassa longiventris which is widespread in the Gulf of Mexico & the Caribbean. Researchers have reported that it's easy to lure individuals of this species partially out of their burrrows by holding blades just out of their reach.

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They really are beautiful animals. Thanks for posting!

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