This Shrimp is the Tiniest Sea Creature You’ve Never Seen

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp (Pontonides ankeri)

It's easy for divers to get stoked on seeing the big-ticket critters. Manta rays? Majestic. Sharks? Spellbinding.

So far, we're all on the same page here.

There's this cognitive leap, though, that occurs for divers when they learn to find and appreciate the nudibranch. It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but this leap happens around the same time as divers learn to slow down and control their air consumption. Tiny things become cool, dives get longer, and there's of course the self-satisfaction that comes out of being able to find and recognize the more obscure creatures.

But it takes a special breed to go for the borderline microscopic stuff. It's possible they've taken the obscure critter-finding obsession too far: if you can barely see the thing without a magnifying glass, and your dive buddies can't see it at all, are you really in your right mind?

Probably not, but that doesn't seem to stop me, now does it?

So, having established that we're engaging in borderline cultish behavior by chasing these supermacro subjects, let's set those reservations aside and look to today's creature feature: the whip coral shrimp.

anilao-whip-coral-shrimp-philippines

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp (Pontonides ankeri)

The whip coral shrimp is a seriously small little critter. It lives on, you guessed it, whip coral (which is a type of black coral), and doesn't grow bigger than about 1.5 cm (0.6").

The whip coral shrimp is a type of cleaner shrimp, and it eats plankton, algae, and parasites.

It lives in the tropical Indo-Pacific and Hawaii.

It comes in as many colors as the whip coral itself, and as such is extremely well-camouflaged:

Whip Coral Shrimp

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp (Pontonides ankeri)

 

It also shares its home with the Whip Coral Goby:

Large Whip Goby (Bryaninops amplus)

Large Whip Goby (Bryaninops amplus)

 

So there you have it: another tiny sea critter you might never have known existed. Now go out, find some whip coral shrimp, and impress your friends and dive buddies with your creature-spotting prowess!

What tiny critters make you feel like a fish ID rockstar? Or am I all alone in letting these kinds of things go to my head? Let me know in the comments! :)


4 Responses to “This Shrimp is the Tiniest Sea Creature You’ve Never Seen”

  1. Such cool creatures! I do like the Large Whip Goby, the best though. It’s mouth is adorable. Your work, as always, is stellar!

    · April 17, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

    Reply

    • Ashley Hauck says:

      Thank you Beverlee! I just saw a blog post the other day about marine parasites (another tiny thing I’m moderately obsessed with), and it had a photo of a truly bizarre-looking parasite on a goby. The post is here:

      http://pacificklaus.com/parasites/

      · April 18, 2014 @ 5:40 am

      Reply

      • Poor little Goby! :/ That parasite is pretty cool, though! Wow, love learning about these very cool underwater beauties. Thanks for sharing the very cool stuff you get to see. :)

        · April 21, 2014 @ 11:28 am

        Reply

        • Ashley Hauck says:

          You are very welcome! I’m glad you enjoy it :)

          · April 21, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

          Reply

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