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 photos copyright John P. Hoover unless otherwise credited

Some interesting shrimps not in Hawaii's Sea Creatures
(Unofficial?) Bishop Museum list of some Hawaiian shrimps:

caridean shrimps (most reef shrimps)

Damaris Torres-Pulliza

Thorella or Thor sp.
    Damaris Torres-Pulliza found several of these at night off the north shore of O'ahu. She writes: The animal was about 7mm in size and I believe there were more than one, but these were very 'jumpy' and hard to keep track of." Dama sent photos to two shrimp specialists and received two answers:

"The shrimp may represent a species of Thorella, a genus being presently monotypic (type species: T. cobourgi Bruce, 1982). It is possible that unknown species of the genus still await discovery.-- Dr. Tomoyuki Tomai.

"These reddish specimens might be another species than Thor paschalis, perhaps even new to science" -- Dr. Charles Fransen.

Whatever it is, Dama seems to have found something new! .

Damaris Torres-Pulliza

Thor leptochelus Xu & Li, 2015
Family Thoridae
    Damaris Torres-Pulliza and Roney Rodrigues found this unusual shrimp at night off O'ahu's north shore at a dapth of about 7 m. Dama writes: "This shrimp was the funniest to watch, one that would make you laugh through your regulator - it moved very awkwardly and erratically. With its bottom half legs and abdomen transparent, it looked like a spider walking on stilts. On site it appeared to mimic Pagurixus nomurai hermit crab, at least that's what I thought at first." Searching the internet, she found a paper that described something very similar. She wrote to the authors and received this reply:

Dear Mrs. Damaris Torres-Pulliza, Thank you for your interesting news. Yes, your shrimp closely resembles Thor leptochelus, as you suggest. As far as I know, the species has not been recorded from Hawaii.... Best wishes. Tomoyuki Komai

Damaris Torres-Pulliza

Damaris Torres-Pulliza

Thor spinosus Boone, 1935
Family Thoridae
    O'ahu diver Damaris Torres-Pulliza found two of these tiny shimps inhabiting a crevice in a head of Porites lobata coral and was able to visit them multiple times. One was smaller than the other. She sent her photos to shrimp specialist Dr. Charles Fransen in the Netherlands. He replied with the ID above. He also mentioned that he knew of only one other photo of the species, so it appears that Dama's photo of this beautiful shrimp is also quite rare! The species is known from East Africa to Hawai'i and French Polynesia. The one in the top photo looks to be about 2 cm. long (about .75 inch).

Roney Rodrigues

Damaris Torres-Pulliza

Stenopus tenuirostris
de Man, 1888
Family Stenopodidae
     Roney Rodrigues and Damaris Torres-Pulliza made an exciting find when they photographed two pairs of these shrimps off West Oahu in June, 2021. As far as I know, the species has never before been recorded from Hawai'i, though it ranges widely in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. The two pairs were about 100 ft. apart at a depth of about 40 ft. Blue eggs are visible under the abdomen of at least one of them, so they do seem to be reproducing here. Reports of additional sightings would be welcome
UPDATE: October, 2022. Pam Madden found a pair at 80 ft. in Kona off the Big Island, and shot some great video. Pam's sighting is the first record from the Big Island, as far as I know.
UPDATE: Susan O'Shaughnessy discovered another pair at Pu'u Olai, Maui in February 2023, and Pauline Fiene took some gorgeous photos. See them here. Susan writes: "They are in about 45 ft of water.... The eel is there most of the time. There is a pair of Lysmata amboinensis residing in the same tunnel as the Stenopus tenuirostris and the undulated moray under the coral. There are two Stenopus hispidus up on top of the rock and several Saron marmoratus in the coral head. It is interesting for so many species to be in proximate habitats." Susan's find is the first record of the species for Maui as far as I know.

Family Palaemonidae
     Marketa Murray photographed these small shrimps on Hawaiian Black Coral Antipathes griggi at a North Kohala dive site in October 2020. The depth was about 40 ft. Although they resemble the Barred Wire Coral Shrimp Pontonides ankeri, which lives in pairs on Wire Coral Cirrhipathes anguina and Red Wire Coral Stichopathes sp., Marketa's shrimps live in colonies of perhaps hundreds of individuals and on a quite different host. They likely represent an undescribed species, very probably in the genus Pontonides and perhaps endemic to Hawai'i. Specimens have been collected and await examination by specialists. These shrimps have also been photographed on black coral off Maui. Reports of other sightings would be welcome.

Lysmata acicula? (Rathbun, 1906)
Family Hippolytidae
   A photo of this shrimp appears in
Hawaii's Sea Creatures on p. 235. In earlier printings it was incorrectly identified as Lysmata ternatensis. Recent photos of the real L. ternatensis show a striped shrimp, not a spotted one. Obviously, then, this is something else. I sent the photos to Dr. Sammy de Grave of Oxford University, who thinks that it is probably a species originally described by zoologist Mary Jane Rathbun in 1906 from 4 specimens found under a tugboat in Honolulu and one specimen dredged off Kauai. Rathbun named her shrimp Hippolysmata acicula. Unfortunately, as was typical in those days, she did not note the color of the live animal. In 1997 Rathbun's specimens were examined by zoologist Fenner Chace of the Smithsonian, who declared that H. acicula was the same as Lysmata ternatensis, a species from Indonesia that had been described and named several years earlier, in 1902. However, the museum specimens Chace examined were bleached and devoid of color. Now that photos of the living animals are available, it's clear that the species pictured here and in my book is not ternatensis. However, to prove that these Hawaiian ones are indeed Rathbun's acicula (or possibly something else), several need to be collected, photographed, and examined. Unfortunately, they are very rarely seen. If you find these shrimps anywhere, please let me know. Specimens needed! (Thanks to Dennis McCrea and Debra Newbery for finding this pair and showing them to me! Debra has taken some terrific video of these shrimp interacting with a Banded Coral Shrimp, Stenopus hispidus, and an unidentified portunid crab.

Update: In December 2010 Dennis McCrea found and collected two of these rare animals and sent them to Dr. de Grave, who is in the process of determing whether they are Rathbun's acicula or a new species. Meanwhile, I have made bold and changed the name in my book to L. acicula.

Metapenaeus? sp.
Family Penaeidae

   Paul Okumura took this photo of a sand-dwelling shrimp in Kona off "Mile Marker Four" on Alii Drive at a depth of about 40 feet. I sent the photo to Dr. Tin-Yam Chan in Taiwan, who answered:

Your penaeid photo does not show much as the shrimp is burying in sand. I am sorry that I can not identify it positively, though it is likely a Metapenaeus judging from coloration (there are many species in Metapenaeus and their coloration are very similar). But juvenile of Penaeus s.l. and some Metapenaeopsis sometimes also with this green body and dotted coloration.

The Bishop Museum records only one species in the genus Metapenaeus as occurring in Hawaii: Metapenaeus affinis. So that is one possibility. I was impressed by the blue-green coloration, as sand-dwelling shrimps of this sort that I have seen before have all been reddish. However, shrimps that are reddish at night are sometimes bluish or greenish by day, and Paul took this photo in the late morning.

Saron neglect
De Man, 1902
Family Hippolytidae
     A photo of this shrimp appears in Hawaii's Sea Creatures on p. 233, photographed out of its natural habitat but clearly showing the two dark "eyespots" on the upper rear of its carapace. The photos above show the shrimp as it appears in its natural habitat, with eyespots out of sight or barely visible (as on the shrimp in the bottom photo).
     According to Japanese shrimp expert, Dr. Junji Okuno, an almost identical Saron shrimp that lacks false eyespots has also been identified as Saron neglectus. That shrimp is widespread in the Indo-Pacific, but absent from Hawaii. If the "eyeless" shrimp turns out to be the true neglectus, then the species pictured above could be un-named. The uncertainty is probably due to the original neglectus having been described from colorless museum specimens. Dr. Okuno has compared the two and has found no significant differences except for the color pattern.

Conchodytes meleagrinae Peters, 1852
Subfamily Palaemoninae
   Shine your dive light into a Blacklipped Pearl Oyster, and quickly, before it closes its valves, you just might catch a glimpse of one of these fat little commensal shrimps. They live inside these oysters, probably never leaving their host. Although I mentioned this shrimp in my book in the pearl oyster writeup, I misspelled the scientific name as Conchodytes meleagris. (This has been corrected in the latest printing.) The American Fisheries Society has given it the official common name "Hawaiian pearloyster shrimp," which makes little sense because the species is widespread in the Indo-Pacific. David Fleetham grabbed this rare photo off Kaanapali, Maui, at a depth of 40 ft. Visit Dave's website at http://davidfleetham.com/


Latreutes pymoeus Nobili, 1904
Family Hippolytidae
    L. pymoeus lives on sea grasses, Halimeda, and perhaps other types of algae throughout the Indo-Pacific. It varies in color from brown to green, often with lighter spots and markings and grows to about 3/8 in.. The large rostrum can vary somewhat in shape. As far as I know, this species has not been officially 
recorded from Hawai`i, but in 2011 Cory Pittman sent specimens from Maui of what appears to be the same shrimp to Alain Crosnier in Paris, who identified them. Ralph Turre took the photos off Sugar Beach, Maui, at night. Depth 20-25 ft.

Harpiliopsis beaupressii
(Audouin, 1825)
Subfamily Pontoniinae
     I found several of these in a head of Cauliflower Coral (Pocillopora meandrina) at Ho`okena, Hawai`i at a depth of about 20 ft. They were difficult to photograph as they kept moving out of sight around the coral, and this is the best I could do. I had never seen the species before, and have not found it since. The shrimp has a wide Indo-Pacific distribution, from Africa to Easter Island, and always associates with branching corals (Pocillopora, Seriatopora, Stylophora, rarely Acropora).


Thor paschalis
(Heller 1862)
Family Thoridae
     Crazy name--why "Easter"?? Who knows, but that's the meaning of paschalis, the Latin species name. Likely the shrimp was discovered or named on Easter Sunday. It is only about 1/4 in. long, thus rarely noticed. It belongs to the genus Thor, which has only five known species. Thor paschalis is widespread in warm seas throughout the Indo-Pacific but little else seems to be known about it. The animal in the top photo was collected by Cory Pittman off Maui and sent to Dr. Alain Crosnier in Paris for identification, so the ID is sound. The bottom photo was taken by Scott Rettig at South Point, Hawai`i. I am guessing that the two are the same species, but examination of a specimen by a specialist would probably be necessary to confirm this.

Urocaridella sp.
Subfamily Palaemoninae
     According to Dr. Junji Okuno, an expert on shrimps of the genus Urocaridella, this species has not yet been named or described. It occurs from Hawai`i to the Western Indian Ocean and is similar in appearance and habits to the Clear Cleaner Shrimp Urocaridella antonbrunii on p 222. of Hawaii's Sea Creatures. I photographed it during the summer of 2005 at Makua, O`ahu, at a depth of about 45 ft. The eel is a Yellowmargin Moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus. (I have added this photo to the revised April 2010 printing of
Hawaii's Sea Creatures.)


Exocliminella maldivensis Duris & Bruce, 1995.
Subfamily Palaemoninae
     Mike Roberts photographed this beautiful little shrimp off Maui, at a depth of about 40 ft.. The ID was confirmed by Dr. Junji Okuno in Japan. Mike's photo is the first I know of from Hawai`i, though the shrimp appears to occur throughout much of the tropical Indo-Pacific. Mike says that the bright colors, esp. the blue, help him find these shrimps, which are very secretive and live in rubble. The first Hawaiian record of this species was made by researchers from the Bishop Museum, who collected it on the Atlantis wreck off Waikiki in 2001. Size of specimens in the original description was 12-16 mm., or around 1/2 in. (I have added this species to the 2014 printing of
Hawaii's Sea Creatures.)


Cuapetes grandis ? (Stimpson, 1860)
Subfamily Palaemoninae
    Katie Samuelson photographed this shrimp at Pupukea, O`ahu, (Sharks Cove) at 15 ft. I subsequently collected a specimen that looked much like it and sent it to Dr. Alexander Bruce, at the Queensland Museum. He identified my specimen as Cuapetes grandis (formerly Kemponia grandis or Periclimenes grandis), which has been recorded from Hawaii a number of times. However, the shrimp in Katie's photos could also be C. elegans (also recorded from Hawaii). Dr. Bruce would have to examine a specimen to be sure. Mike Roberts photographed what appears to be the same species at Ulua Beach, Maui, (see below). The white line between the eyes is distinctive of this group. (I have added this species to the 2014 printing of
Hawaii's Sea Creatures.)

Cuapetes grandis? - photos above and below copyright 2007 by Mike Roberts


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  Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover unless otherwise credited