Skeleton Shrimp    Caprella sp.



This so called shrimp, is not a shrimp at all but a member of the amphipod  group of crustacea.  However it differs from other amphipods (think beach hoppers!) because of its elongated body.  It also looks like a praying mantis insect with its grasping front limbs.  Adding to this diversity of body form is its habit of moving like an inch worm.  With its hind end firmly anchored by the four hooked legs, it reaches forward with its arms, anchors and then pulls its hind end forward to meet the front.  This inch long individual is an adult female with a large brood pouch in the middle of the body where the young develop.


Caprellids can be found by the thousands on branching hydroids under docks or on eel grass blades.  There they feed on the hydroids, on diatoms and detritus (organic particulate matter) or on small animals.  They can be easily found by examining eel grass blades or among the attached organisms on a boat bumper that has been left in the water and not cleaned for a while.  Within a minute of exposing the bumper to the air the capellids will start to wiggle revealing their locations.  They are eaten by a variety of fish.


The various species of caprella occur worldwide including some that live on the skin of whales called whale lice.