A Shrimp Larvae in development
On a recent Blackwater Nightdive I was lucky enough to witness a Shrimp Larvae shedding its skin. During our Blackwater Nightdives we attract weird planktonic creatures with strong lights and get to see various juvenile fishes, squids, octopi, worms and a lot of strange crustaceans. This shrimp caught my eye and at first I thought it was riding or feeding on something. While looking through the viewfinder I then realised that it was actually peeling its skin off and that I am witnessing a shrimp larvae transforming.
Like all crustaceans, shrimps drop their outer protective skin as they grow bigger. The softer, inner skin then hardens out to be their new carapace. Before shrimps look like they actually look when they are fully grown, they go through several larval states. A little bit like a Butterfly or other Insects go through transformations while growing up. They start as a egg and then hatch as a Nauplius, turn into a Zoea and develop on to Mysis, then Post Larva and finally reach the stage of a juvenile Shrimp. This particular shrimp – I believe – is in this very moment transforming from its Zoea state to a Mysis state.