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Marine Species

The marine shrimp species around Borneo are very diverse; however they are often hard to spot and take pictures of. Since traps wouldn’t have worked in the ocean, I had to rely on characteristics that mostly had to do with the claws and carapace/rostrum, the most visible parts of the shrimp when it is observed alive and hiding in its territory. No good characteristics for tails could be observed.

Some background checking on coral banded shrimp reveals that they belong to the infraorder Stenopodidea, which are neither true shrimp or true prawns. (It’s not really a shrimp! Did I cheat?) The difference between a true shrimp and stenopods is obvious when you look at the third walking leg of a stenopod; this is the biggest limb and is often confused for its frontal claw. The frontal two claws are reduced to around the size of the other walking legs. The coral banded shrimp in particular belongs to the family Stenopus.

The pistol shrimp, family Alpheidae, are true shrimp, belonging to the infraorder Caridea. They are snapping shrimp that dig burrows, and are found worldwide, mostly in temperate or tropical waters. Some of them are like the unidentified Goby Shrimp species and form mutualistic relationships with Gobies. Their distinctive feature is a pair of asymmetrical claws; the much stronger one is able to produce sonoluminescence. The shrimp can produce very low-intensity light as well as a prey-stunning force, created from a rapidly collapsing bubble created in the water by their larger, snapping claw; people are still doing research on how exactly sonoluminescence works, but one theory says that high inertia causes the ionization of small amounts of noble gas within the bubble, creating a hot plasma core within the bubble that high-energy electrons smash into when the bubble collapses. Some scientists even think that this might the key to achieving thermonuclear fusion.
(I think I found a new favorite subject to distract myself with…)

 When you go to the Phillipino market in Kota Kinabalu, it becomes obvious that there seem to be a great diversity of marine shrimp that can be caught by fishermen, and their harvesting for consumption doesn’t seem to be regulated much. These shrimp are often huge, and when I asked fishermen how and where they caught the shrimp they would shrug or eye me with some suspicion.

I did, however, see a small rowing boat near the dock, with some rusty oil barrels tied to it. Two men were swimming around the barrels, and it looked as if they were catching things in the barrel; I think they might have been catching the shrimp with a trap similar to the way I was catching freshwater shrimp. If so, the marine shrimp could be scavengers as well.

Picture by Santiago. Mantis Prawns aren’t really shrimp (nor are they prawns) but that’s about the same size as some of the shrimp sold here. They also make sonoluminescence! (Their powerful claws are why they’re in the bottles…they can break glass.)

Last updated August 2008. Contact Justine at jschow88 [AT]gmail.com.