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(Hymenocera picta)

HARLEQUIN SHRIMP (Hymenocera picta)


The Harlequin Shrimp is one example of a non-toxic crustacean bearing vivid colours, which serve as 'false advertising' by being enough to scare predators away. The ones found in the Indian Ocean and West Pacific have white bodies that are covered in large purple spots with a blue edge. They are a monogamous species, which means when they find a mate they stay together for life in pairs that are often territorial. The pairs often take shelter in the base of branching coral heads, in crevices or under rocks below the inter-tidal zone on coral reefs, and they can be found in the same area of the reef for months and even for years. They are a rare animal because of the changing coral reefs and due to their high sensitivity to water temperature, salinity and water chemistry.

The Harlequin Shrimp has 5 legs on each  side,  of  which  the  first  pair  are  modified  large,

flattened claws known as chelipeds. Their  eyes  sit  on stalks  and  they  have  a  first pair of

sensory antenna on the head that they use to sense the smell of nearby prey. They can grow

up to 5 cm in length, females growing slightly larger than males.  These  shrimp  feed  mainly

on echinoderms, particularly starfish, which they are able to turn  over  to  disable  it  prior  to

starting their meal at the end of one arm and eating up to  the  central  disk  of  the  still  alive

starfish. They can feed on the same starfish for  days,  keeping  it  immobilized,  while  slowly

eating away its insides. They usually hide during the day and  prefer  to  feed  at  night.  Their

reproduction is sexual with 100 to 5,000 eggs being laid per  season  which the female tends

and cleans until they hatch.






PLEASE NOTE THAT AN ENCOUNTER WITH A HARLEQUIN SHRIMP CAN NEVER BE GUARANTEED ON A PARTICULAR DIVE!! This is what makes the wild so special; every day is just unique!

Species Distribution

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