Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creature Feature: Sawblade Shrimp.

With vacation pics over with, it's time to get back to what this blog is all about: becoming inspired by how weird and wonderful the world is. Yes, believe it or not, this blog has a point- to get people all fired up about how amazing the world already is, and to then use that information to fuel creative projects. So let's head to the oceans again; there's always more than enough weird stuff, there.


If you'll look to the above pic, you'll see a red thing that looks almost like a branch, but not quite. That's a saw-blade shrimp (Tozeuma). It's yet another weird resident of the Indo-Pacific reefs, as well as the Red Sea. They grow 5cm, or roughly 2 inches, and feed on parasites, algae, and plankton.

These are pretty much the walking sticks of the sea. Of course, since this is the ocean, the weirdness has been cranked up to eleven. Banded saw-blade shrimp have bands (go figure)that break up their outlines, as well as transparent bodies. The ocellated saw-blade shrimp above simply looks a lot like the coral it's attached to.  Now you see it, now you don't.


Along with being simply excellent at camouflage, these shrimp have some important jobs to do. As previously stated, they eat parasites. Those parasites come off of other, larger animals that allow themselves a free cleaning from the shrimp. The saw-blades will also clean burrows, jaws, and other things that animals simply can't be bothered to clean.

There are also a ton of saw-blade shrimp waiting to be discovered, or at least named properly. Some people take excellent photos of unknown shrimp when they go to reefs on vacation. There's still a lot to learn about these bizarre, hunched crustaceans. And no, what they taste like is not on the list of things to learn...although a few oddballs have probably tried.

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