Sunday, August 06, 2006
These are a really cool little shrimp. I took an underwater photo of them at an undisclosed location sometime in the last few weeks. I think many of the dive ops know of this particular pair, but everyone keeps it quiet.
These are Harlequin Shrimp ( Hymenocera picta or Hymenocera elegans, depending on who you read) aka Clown shrimp. They are one of the most unique and colorful shrimp we see. I first came across these guys in the aquarium trade. They eat nothing but starfish, unless maybe the occasional feet off urchins. Back in the day when I was keeping and selling marine fish we would see these on occasion. People would actually set up an aquarium for them and another for starfish, then throw a starfish into the shrimp tank 'til they manage to rip off a leg then pull it out. Several days later they'd throw another starfish into the tank while the earlier victim recovered. Starfish can grow back limbs, so theoretically, several relatively inexpensive starfish could keep a pair of Harlequin Shrimp going indefinitley.
In Hawaii, these shrimp likely feed off blood stars (I think I have one pictured somewhere in the archives) and the occasional linkia star. We had a pair of Harlequins near an arch just north of High Rock for several years that various DMs used to feed blood stars on a regular basis. One year we had particularly large surf and the spot they were living at was damaged and we never saw them again.
Several years ago there was a teacher at one of the local high schools who actually bred them, had a web page, and sold them. He apparently fed them crown of thorns stars. These are huge stars, so I bet one could feed a pair for a looooong time. I haven't looked at that site in years. If I can find it again, I'll post it here.
In other news... I recently started a mailing list. It's an opt in system and tonight I sent out a bazillion confirmations, one to most everyone who's contacted me over the years... I hope nobody was offended. If you are reading this and you've contaced me before and receive the message... just ignore it if you aren't interested, or sign up if you are curious, you can opt out at any time. For anyone else who's curious, I have a link on the right side of the blog where you can opt in for my Wanna Dive mailing list. I won't be giving the info to anyone else, and likely won't be putting out an e-mail more than 3-4 times a year I suspect. I don't want to bombard anyone with SPAM, I get 150-300 pieces of junk mail a day myself I have to filter through. It gets to be bothersome because occasionally I probably miss legitimate e-mail.