D is for Decapod

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp Periclemenes yucatanicus

As a part of the A-Z Photographic Glossary of Biological Terms challenge, today it is D for Decapod, as illustrated by this Spotted Cleaner Shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus).

Humans walk on two, mammals have four, insects have six, and arachnids have eight, but animals with ten legs are called decapods! Decapods are an order of crustaceans containing about 15,000 species including many that are familiar such as crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns, and shrimp.

Anatomically all decapods have ten legs in the form of five pairs of thoracic appendages on the last five thoracic segments, with the front three pairs functioning as mouthparts and the remainder used for walking or swimming, and in many decapods one pair of legs has enlarged pincers or claws.

This is the case with our featured decapod today, the Spotted Cleaner Shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus). Found throughout the Caribbean- this one on the reefs off the island of Bonaire photographed at about 50’, it lives in association with several species of anemone, like this Giant Anemone (Condylactis gigantean), where it perches itself in plain view swaying its body and waving its antennae to attract fish for it to “clean”. Like vehicles waiting at a car wash, reef fish will line up next to these cleaning stations and once the fish pose motionless beside the anemone, the shrimp (and often other juvenile stages of reef fish) will emerge and give their bodies, even inside their mouths, a once-over to remove debris, dead skin, and parasites from the fish.

Here are a few more Caribbean decapods:

20773405635_aa619dcee9_oCaribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus); Ranguana Caye, Belize

19943066686_9bf7a4ba2c_oBanded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus); Bonaire

19942955456_15b288c34f_oPederson Cleaner Shrimp (Periclimenes pedersoni); Bonaire

19782370849_a6a49a5275_oNimble Spray Crab (Percnon gibbesi) and its usual host the Long-spined Black Sea Urchin (Diadema antillarum); Bonaire.

19346852384_cd9d967726_oScarlet-striped Cleaning Shrimp (Lysmata grabhami); Bonaire

20290528005_b70751cbaa_oRed Reef Hermit (Paguristes cadenati); Bonaire

20211976480_d7c1d98fd6_oSquat Shrimp (Thor amboinensis); Bonaire


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