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 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.
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” 😉
This morning we had two fantastic dives again here in Lembeh Strait … the first one at Critter Hunt and the second one at Nudi Falls. Besides many cool critters such as Wonderpus, Seamoths, Nudibranchs and other things we saw two tiny shrimps of the same species. I found one on the first dive and our dive guide Indra found one on the second dive at Nudi Falls. They are shrimps of the genus phycocaris (just like the hairy shrimp) and are about the the size of a grain of rice (slightly smaller even). They can be found on rocks and debris. Oh … and this afternoon our Guest Martin saw a Manta Ray at Aer Prang – his first Manta ever.
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!
Since we found the first specimen of the green Phycocaris Species 5 months passed already and we are finding them since then constantly. After all we still don’t know if it is a new species or if it is just a variation of Phycocaris simulans (also known as the “Hairy Shrimp”) but we are at least getting better in finding them. We started to spot them on several dive sites already. But the best day was yesterday: I found one in the morning in the northern part of the Lembeh Strait and Aso found one in the afternoon in the middle of the Lembeh Strait. That makes 2 different individuals on a single day (we are assuming, that the shrimp did not make several kilometers during lunchtime). And even though it is so tiny (clearly smaller than a grain of rice) our guest keep loving it. So come to NAD Lembeh and check out the little green Shrimp!
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.