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” 😉
If you like Nudibranchs, then Lembeh is the place to go – a trasure chamber full of Nudibranchs and Slugs of all families. This was proved again on a recent dive at Nudi Falls. I can’t really remember how many different species of Nudibranch we counted in total, but it was very impressive and our guest kept talking about it all day. There were Hairy Norse Gods, Pikacus (Thecacera), Melibes, Gymnodoris and many others. But my personal highlight on this special dive were these two little Trapania Nudibranchs. Trapanias are very small (max 1-2 cm) and a not very common Group of Nudibranchs. I have seen about 5 or 6 different species of Trapania here in Lembeh – but i have never seen two species on a single dive. I was highly considering changing lenses these days and do some Close Focus Wide Angle … but i think i just stick with the 100mm for some more days and shoot Nudibranchs 😉
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!
Previously we discovoered a smooth green phycocaris species that we believe is undescribed and lives in tiny green ascidians. We have already seen it several times (at various divesites) since then. And that was also what we were trying to find yesterday, when we suddenly saw this little green thing on one of the ascidians. It seems to be a tiny kind of flatworm that perfectly matches the ascidian in colour, pattern and shape. And even though it has no eyes and does not move much it is still a beautiful critter. And it proves that if you look for things smaller than an olive grain you keep finding new stuff every day – at least here in Lembeh.
In Lembeh everybody is looking for Hairy Frogfish, Rhinopias, Mimic octopus, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Pygmy Seahorses and other “Premium Critters”. But sometimes it is the rather ordinary looking species, that fascinate me. And it was exactely the same, when i found this little fish in the shallows of a black sand muckdive in between some algae in around 5 meters depth. I thought it was a juvenile Filefish with extreme fins – but i was wrong. At first i could not find it in the books, but now i found out, that it is a juvenile Golden Triplespine – a deep water species, that sometimes gets washed into shallow estuaries. i don’t know how rare it is to find it, but this was for sure the first one, i remember having seen. And i was more excited than with the usual Frogfish …