Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sea Star Shrimp

On a coral reef, one life tends to be layered on another life. Aside from the prey/predator relationship, the reef abounds with examples of symbiosis and commensalism.

Copyright 2011 by Barry Fackler
The cushion star (Culcita nova guineae) is a common echinoderm on Hawaiian reefs. A casual look shows nothing more than a puffy-looking "starfish". But closer examination reveals the presence of tiny sea star shrimp (Periclimenes soror) clinging to the sea star's bristly skin.

Copyright 2012 by Barry Fackler

These commensal shrimp live in small groups on a sea star and change color to match that of their host.

Copyright 2012 by Barry Fackler