A variety of Harlequins have made an appearance in Lembeh this week. Harlequin Shrimp, Harlequin Swimming Crabs and Harlequin Ghost Pipefish have been keeping our photographers and recreational divers busily entertained! Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans) are a highly sought-after sight in Lembeh, and are often found near their favorite food source: the blue Linkia Sea Star. Harlequin Shrimp feed on Linkia Star tube feet; they remove each tasty foot with their tweezer-like claws before cutting into the Sea Star and consuming it further. A few lucky Sea Stars are able to shed an arm when the Harlequin Shrimp first begin to feed, but others are not so lucky. Harlequin Shrimp have been known to slowly consume a living Sea Star for many days, sometimes going so far as to feed their Sea Star in order to prolong the life of their food source!
Harlequin Swimming Crabs (Lissocarcinus laevis) are a more common, more easily located critter than the rare Harlequin Shrimp. They are often spotted living under the draping tentacles of tube-dwelling anemones. Their symbiotic relationship with anemones provides them with stinging protection from predation; in turn they help keep their anemone clean of marine debris. This critter makes for a fantastic photo as it crouches beneath its anemone, so put it on your “critter wish-list” for your next visit to Lembeh!
The Harlequin Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) is a fantastic sighting no matter how many times you have been to the area. I like to think they are named “Ghost” Pipefish because of how easy it is to look right past them. Their mastery of camouflage alongside Feather Stars provides them with the concealment they need to successfully prey upon unsuspecting crustaceans. This camouflage also makes them a prize find for critter enthusiasts. It is yet another animal to add to your Two Fish Lembeh critter wish-list!