Whidbey Island Beachwatchers
 

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Caprellid amphipods (Skeleton shrimp)

photo of skeleton shrimp
Copyright © 2005 Mary Jo Adams

 

In spite of their common name "skeleton shrimp", these small crustaceans are not shrimp, but belong to the order Amphipoda.   They have an appearance akin to that of walking stick insects and move in inchworm fashion.   Although some species may reach a length of 2 inches, many are much smaller and you'll have to look closely in order to find them.    Be on the lookout for skeleton shrimp on both sandy and rocky shores where they may be clinging to eelgrass, hydroids, or seaweed.  

 

Caprellids utilize a variety of feeding strategies.   Some species use their antenna for filter feeding or scraping diatoms or detritus from the substrate.   Others are predators or scavengers and consume small animals.   Caprellids are prey for fish, brooding anemones ( Epiactis prolifera ), and lion nudibranchs ( Melibe leonina ).

 

This page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 11/19/05.

 

 

photo of skeleton shrimp