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The story of the “Little Green Shrimp”

New Phycocaris Species

The Little Green Shrimp (the newly discovered green Phycocaris species) is one of the very hot Critters in the Lembeh Strait at the moment. Several other dive centers already managed to find them and it is becoming a very popular subject with UW (Super-)Macro Photographers – especially with the ones that already have seen ‘everything.’  Even though we have already written several times about the little green shrimp, we now want to officially tell the story about its discovery.
It was first seen in October 2011 by our Dive Guide “Aso”. Aso has been with NAD Lembeh for several years,  starting as a gardener and working his way up.  Aso has a lot of talent and a big passion for the really tiny stuff. Hairy Shrimps, Tiny Nudibranchs, Lembeh Seadragons and all other critters that normal people almost can’t see are his absolute favourite. So obviously he has his nose always close to the reef – like on that one day in October.

Aso Tadete, Dive Guide at NAD Lembeh Resort

Our Dive Guide Aso, who discovered the little green shrimp

Aso was diving with a group of 4 Divers from Taiwan (Nikki, Color, Ariel & Tommy). They had a great week with superb critters like Hairy Octopus and other really rare stuff. On one morning dive at Dante’s Wall on the northern end of the Strait Aso then saw the Little Green Shrimp for the first time. It looks exactly like a “Hairy Shrimp” … only that it is fatter, has no hair and is green. Luckily Aso’s divers all had cameras and brought back some pictures of the shrimp. Back in the resort, Aso came immediately into the office and said that he found a new species. So we all had a look at the pictures and none of us – even not the oldest guides – knew that shrimp. We then posted the pictures on web forums and it did not lead to any positive ID. The opposite was the case: We got contacted by scientists and shrimp specialists who were interested in samples (We didn’t collect any ). They were not sure if it is a variation of phycocaris simulans (Hairy Shrimp) or a new species of phycocaris. So we started to get really excited about our little green shrimp.  Strangely enough, one of our former guides, Jhoe, also found one during a liveaboard charter about a week later – in Alor, which is quite far away from here.

Where to find the Little Green Phycocaris

In these Sea Squirt Clusters you can find the little green shrimp

After this first specimen that we saw at the far northern end of the Lembeh Strait we found the Green Shrimp on several other dive sites all over the strait. They are very small (smaller than a grain of rice) but is is still possible to find them, when you know where to look. They live in the Ascidian Clusters in between the little green-white ascidians that look like Olives. And usually we find them in between 10 and 20 meters.
As there are now already several other dive centers finding this shrimp and everyone starts to use its own name for it, we want to suggest “Phycocaris tadetei” (Aso’s real name is Olbert Tadete) as a future scientific name. For day-to-day use, we will stick to “Little green Shrimp” 😉

Video of the Little Green Shrimp

On his recent Trip to NAD Lembeh our guest and friend Eun Jae Im filmed the little green Phycocaris Shrimp that we discovered last year here in Lembeh. Eun Jae is shooting his video with a Canon EOS 7D in a Nauticam Housing and a external monitor in a prototype monitor housing by Nauticam – and he is bringing back fantastic footage from every single dive. Watch this cool clip … thanks for sharing Eun Jae!

 

The little green Shrimp

Green Hairy Shrimp Variation without hair.

We found this Phycocaris species for the first time in October and since then already several times at different dive sites here in the Lembeh Strait. This one is now the 5th specimen we found and we have seen them in between 25 and 10 meters depth. It is always associated with the little green ascidians and is most probably a member of the phycocaris family as it has the same features as the Hairy Shrimp. But it has no hair – that’s why we think it could be either a variation or even a completely new species. It definately has the same body shape, behaviour, ray like eyes, hairy legs and size. All specimens we have seen until now are green – even though we have been also searching on different coloured ascidians. No matter what it is: Our guests love them – even though they are really tiny and hard to see without magnifying glasses.

Hairy Shrimp or not Hairy Shrimp

3 different phycocaris shrimps in Lembeh Strait

Picture Credit green Shrimp: Color Chen

The Hairy Shrimp (phycocaris simulans, left in the picture) is a very small shrimp and not much is known about it. But in Lembeh it can be seen on a regular basis. Over the last few months we have seen hairy shrimps in all colourations (white, yellow, red, beige, brown, green and even some blue ones).

But we also found some strange specimens of something … well something that kind of looks like a hairy shrimp. First we found the thick, green, smooth one (right side in the picture, picture by Color Chen) and we could not get a positive ID for it. We also got a message from a scientist, saying that it could be either a unknown variation of phycocaris simulans or possibly even a new phycocaris species.

Then we also found the one you can see in the middle of the picture, which also has the distinctive shape and movements of the phycocaris simulans but is neither smooth nor hairy but looks a little bit like a cluster of silt, mud and sand.

So we keep looking – who knows how many more phycocaris treasures are out there …