No, Skeleton shrimp is not an ill-conceived Halloween costume concept, it is indeed a real sea creature. As their name suggests, these obscure critters are named for their skeletal appearance, and transparency.
You’ve probably noticed, these unusual little crustaceans bare a physical resemblance to a praying mantis, well the likeness doesn’t end there! Aside from their similar hunting style, after mating, the female in some species have been known to kill the male by injecting venom from one of her claws. Although judging from this photo the female has decided to tolerate her mate, as he can be seen hovering in the background.
The female Skeleton Shrimp carries babies in brood pouch until they hatch as even teensier versions of the already tiny adults, as seen in this image if you look closely enough.
Xeno crabs are bizarre little spider crabs that live in symbiosis with certain species of Black Corals. They are very well camouflaged to avoid predation, and therefore come in a wide variety of colours to blend in with their host coral.
Whether you regard the Xeno Crab’s cold, blank porcelain eyes and spiky armour with horror or admire its intricate markings and unique shape as beautiful, it is indeed a sight to behold.
Whip Corals are always worth a second look as they play host to many different partners, such as shrimps, crabs and gobies. As the creatures living on Whip Corals are so small, you really must get quite close in order to have a proper look.
However, this should be done with caution, although Whip Corals seem sturdy and flexible they are still corals, meaning they are complex and fragile organisms. They may not break as easily as some other corals, but they can get tangled in dive gear causing them to bend and even snap or be ripped out at the base completely. What can take decades to grow can be destroyed in seconds.
The Blue Ringed octopus has 3 hearts pumping blue blood, food digestion occurs in the brain and it contains enough venom to kill 26 humans in minutes!
But maybe the craziest fact of all is that this clever little badass doesn’t even produce its own venom. Like many other sea creatures, the blue ring utilises a symbiotic relationship with other organisms.
In the Blue Ring’s salivary glands live many toxin secreting bacteria, these neurotoxins paralyse any animal unlucky enough to be injected.
When hunting, the Blue Ring descends on its prey using its beak to create a puncture wound which it then spits saliva into; quickly paralysing the victim and making for a fuss free meal.
Despite this, the Blue Ringed octopus has only caused 3 recorded deaths worldwide. These beautiful creatures are very shy and are fascinating to observe. Like all marine creatures, show them respect and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking experience, and often a flamboyant display.
Harlequin Shrimp , if observed, are beautiful and graceful creatures. You may see them swaying back and forth peacefully waving their paddle like claws as if dancing. They form monogamous pairs, usually spending their entire life with the same partner. I know what you’re thinking, ‘naaaw what sweet, lovely little organisms’, in thinking this you would be wrong!
These unique little shrimp are vicious, calculated predators. Not only do they work together to capture their prey, but they also abduct it and drag it back to their lair where they keep it alive long enough to devour it entirely, which can take up to a week!
Although this is grizzly behaviour indeed, you must admire the inventive tactics employed by the Harlequin Shrimp to get what it wants most, starfish.
Harlequin Shrimp eat starfish exclusively, they’ve even been known to take on the infamous crown of Thorns Starfish. So how do they manage such a feat when a starfish can be up to 100 times the weight of these tiny hunters?
Working as a team, one shrimp snips suction-tube feet from each arm of its prey. Meanwhile, it’s mate gradually pulls the Sea Star over onto its back. Once that’s accomplished, the pair drag their hapless victim off to a preferred dining spot, typically under a rocky ledge or coral head.
Harlequin Shrimp although brutal killers are truly amazing, rare and unique animals and like many other marine organisms they are under threat from human impacts. They suffer as a result of coral reef damage and the Aquarium trade. If you want to keep seeing amazing critters like these guys in their natural habitat then help us care for our oceans, and don’t buy pets caught from the wild.