Monday, March 15, 2010

Skeletons on a root trapeze. Skeleton shrimp, that is.

Last week, we found the tide 'way out at Centennial Beach, and walked almost to the water's edge. Out there, I picked up a tangle of eelgrass and roots to inspect at home, looking for critters attached to the leaves and roots. Amphipods, of course; snails maybe, worms. And maybe an isopod or an anemone.

At home, I dumped the lot into a bowl of seawater, removed the live eelgrass, and left the broken roots for later. When I went back to them, I saw movement in the water. Something tiny, vibrating, attached to all the roots. Here they are:

Skeleton shrimp, Caprellids

I had read about these; I never expected to see any. I find them fascinating, and I'll be looking for another batch next low tide.

There is more info on Caprellids, and clear photos,  at the Monterey Bay Aquarium site, on Intertidal MarineInvertebrates of the South Puget Sound, and at RaceRocks; Wikpedia has a brief note. And there's a whole page of photos in the Starfish collection.

I was so tired by the time I was done, what with Picasa scrambling the almost-finished video, so that I had to start from scratch, that I misspelled my own name at the end! And I identified the skeleton shrimp as Caprella equilibra, following Kozloff's diagram, but later I realized they could also be Caprella laeviuscula, which is also common here (Map). (And looks about the same to me.) And I think that the brood chamber is one, made of two leaves. but I'm not going to re-do the whole thing again. Not now, at least.


  1. You find, photo and film the most amazing things! I need to take more time to look at the little things like you do. - Margy

  2. Amazing! No wonder it took forever to load, it was 5 minutes long and pretty good quality!!

    That female looked like she was conducting the music.

    The blade wanderer was really getting into the swing of things himself.

  3. What an amazing video. My daughter and I watched it through, and were sad when it ended! I love the way you find the tiniest of God's creatures and spotlight them. They are beautiful.

  4. Thanks, y'all!

    Eileen, I like that idea of the female conducting the music!

  5. Captivating! Who knew? (as with most small wonders)... Thanks for looking, and for sharing their adventures so thoroughly.

  6. I teach a summer nature camp where we take the 5-12 year olds to a creek to look at macroinvertabrates. This will be a great intro to observing macroinvert behaviors and body structure. Thanks for posting, Weeta!


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