Harlequin Shrimp Portrait

Harlequin Shrimp

Hymenocera picta, commonly known as the harlequin shrimp

Harlequin Shrimp Portrait
Harlequin Shrimp

Harlequin shrimp’s only source of nutrition comes from starfish. They are very skilled at flipping over the slow starfish on its back, and eating the tube feet and soft tissues until it reaches the central disk. They, usually one female and one male, use their claws to pierce the tough skin and feeding legs to help them maneuver the starfish. Sometimes the starfish will shed the arm that the shrimp attacked and regrow (the shrimp can then re eat it), but it is usually too wounded to regrow.

The Harlequin moves at a very slow pace and in waves. It also may have toxins from its prey (the starfish) which could make it distasteful and potentially dangerous for predators. The shrimp also moves its claws almost constantly. When it comes to males and females, the females are larger and have colored abdominal plates unlike the males. The female produces between 100 to 5,000 eggs per season depending on environmental factors. The male and female are often seen together in the wild and work together to not only reproduce but also eat food.

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