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Life of a Commensal Shrimp
Life for residents of coral reefs can be hazardous. This is especially true for small marine life like shrimps. Some of the most beautiful ones find protection by living around the stinging tentacles of anenomes. These type of shrimps are called commensal. That is because they derive a benefit from the anemone, but neither help nor harm their host. The commensal shrimp most commonly seen while diving in Gorontalo turns out to be a new species!
The Beautiful Sarasvati Anemone Shrimp
This shrimp was named only last year after the Hindu goddess of the arts by Okuno. The Sarasvati anemone shrimp (2002) has purple-edged white spots on its transparent body. Its antennae are white and its claws are white with purple stripes. As with some other commensal shrimp species, it has a red band across each eye. Not all anemones in Gorontalo host this shrimp. Divers can also find it on mushroom corals (Heliofungia) and also bubble coral (Plerogyra sinuosa). Sometimes divers can see numerous Sarasvati anemone shrimps jumping around the tentacles of an anemone. More rarely, they will clap their “hands” to grab attention. These shrimp serve a cleaning function. Sometimes divers see a butterflyfish or bannerfish hovering above an anemone. That often indicates commensal shrimps are grooming the fish for paracites. Come dive with us to see this goddess of artful beauty. Check out a dramatic close up photo by Steve Jones, taken here in Gorontalo.