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Skeleton Shrimp

Caprella spp.

Skeleton shrimp are usually transparent, but may vary in color from tan to brown to reddish. (The Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)
Skeleton shrimp are usually transparent, but may vary in color from tan to brown to reddish. (The Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

Skeleton shrimp are tiny, gangly amphipods with transparent, stick-like bodies. They live attached to hydroids, sponges and vegetation in the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay.

Appearance:

  • Long, gangly, stick-like body
  • Body is usually transparent, but may vary in color from tan to brown to reddish. Skeleton shrimp can change color to blend in with their background.
  • Hooked, grasping rear legs
  • Front legs are folded, similar to a praying mantis
  • Grow one-half of an inch to 2 inches long

Habitat:

  • Found on hydroids, sponges and other animals that live attached to piers, rocks and pilings
  • Also common on bay grasses in shallow waters
  • Use their hooked rear legs to grasp on to hydroids

Range:

  • Found in the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay

Feeding:

  • Eat copepods, algae and detritus
  • Use their front legs to capture their food

Predators:

  • Reproduce sexually
  • Females carry large, transparent egg pouches on their abdomen
  • Some females may kill males after mating by injecting them with venom from a poisonous claw
  • After hatching, juveniles immediately attach to hydroids or vegetation
  • Females are believed to live for one year

Other Facts:

  • Skeleton shrimp move along hydroid branches similar to the way inchworms crawl

Sources and Additional Information:




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