Stenopus hispidus is perhaps the most widely distributed shrimp in the sea but still not to often you see one. Then you travel to the Caribbean and all of a sudden they are all over the place. I have wanted to photograph one for a long time and every time I have found one, it is almost impossible to get a decent shot. It usually hides in crevices or deep down in sponges and when I come to close, it folds in all the antennas and wild pinchers and back into the darkness.
When looking at this little shrimp I get this strange association. I have sometimes struggled with a fly-fishing rod between bushes along rivers. My hooks tend to get everything else than fish. Leaves and branches usually. Here this little shrimp handle 6 rods simultaneously and then it rushes back into the hole with lightning speed without messing up the rods.
As always there is a reason for this long white antennas. They are not only sensory system but also a way of getting attention. This is a cleaner shrimp eating parasites off larger animals. They often sit upside down under coral heads and “advertise” with the long white antennas. When fish comes into their cleaningstation it eats the parasites of the fish. I also have a strong tail fin to get out of trouble if danger get to close. On one of the pictures you can see how they stay upside down under a coral with just the white antennas out.
They are a little tricky to shoot. It is thin antennas in all directions and if you try to get all in the frame, the shrimp almost disappear in the middle.
We just had a long and calm boat ride all the way to the famous pitons of St. Lucia. The gigantic cone shaped mountains rise from the sea. The sea is so calm we don’t have to throw anchor. The diving boat floats without drifting. We get ready and jump in. The first thing we see when sinking to the bottom is banded shrimps inside a sponge. I take a good look around and even in distance I could see the thin, long striped antennas several places.
So it is just to take a pick. Look for some big ones and on places where they where more out in the open. Mmmm, wonderful!
Read more about strange small animals on the reef: http://reflections.no/hippocampus/