The Emperor Shrimp

Facts not fiction

While diving in Padangbai, Bali is said to bring the most exciting and satisfying experience to divers, the charms and exciting surprises of the Bali marine world is second to none in the whole indo-pacific region. Are you a lover of the marine world? Are you considering going macro diving on your next vacation? If so, then diving in Bali should be an experience you shouldn’t miss. Today, we will be focusing on an incredibly charming member of the marine world that can be mostly found on either massive sea stars or sea cucumbers and on few occasions, can be also found on slugs all around the Padangbai and Bali aquatic region, THE EMPEROR SHIRMP.

While most divers tend to pay attention to more visible or more prominent sea creatures like the sea urchin or cucumber, they tend forget to take a closer look on these simple creatures as there are even more surprises to be discovered on them. They are also known as Periclimenes imperator, and this nuanced yet striking invertebrate of the Palaemonidae family measures roughly about ¾ inches or 2,5 cm in length. It is interesting to note that the emperor shrimp is a little commensal shrimp that survives on a symbiotic relationship which it forms with the sea slug or some other hosts.

Though it is both detritivorous and carnivorous, it mostly sticks to either the mouth or anus of its host as it moves around the body of its host to obtain nutrients in the form of detritus, parasites, fecal matter or little meaty foods. An interesting fact to mention is that these colorful shrimps have been found on some occasions feeding on the eggs of their host during their spawning season. Even though this feeding method negatively affects the ability of its host to reproduce, the emperor shrimp couldn’t have caused any significant damage to the number of eggs released by its host because of its size. This singular act causes no harm to its host directly.

The Emperor Shrimp in Padangbai

Where can I photograph and dive with the emperor shrimp?

Good news for you is that the diving and taking pictures of or with this lovely sea creature is easy because it mostly sticks to slow-moving hosts who care less about divers making it very convenient for the emperor shrimp to hitch a ride on them. Though their hosts don’t always have a fixed spot as they are constantly on the move, you stand a better of spotting them during the day on the cruise with some of their hosts on muddy sea beds or when muck diving around gentle slopes all around the dive sites of the Padangbai and Bali aquatic region.

Another great opportunity to finding them is during night dives as a majority of their hosts are nocturnal and only tend to come out of their hiding spots at night which includes the Spanish dancer nudibranch and some species of the sea cucumber to name a few.

While trying to photograph the emperor shrimp you might find it hiding from you on the body of its host once it notices you, it is essential that you try to wait a couple of minutes since there isn’t much hiding spots on its host’s body, it will come back out. Please note not to touch the shrimp or its host as you might spook or hurt them and in turn ruin the process of your unique encounter with this genuinely fascinating specimen.

The Emperor Shrimp in Padangbai The Emperor Shrimp in Padangbai

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