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Barrel shrimp

New homeowners or salp murderers?

Barrel shrimps are a regular in our midwater tows.  All barrel shrimp species are part of the genus Phromina, and they are hard-core homebuilders.  A female grabs a salp (a barrel-shaped jellylike plankton) and gobbles up the inside, hollowing it out to form a transparent floating house.  There she lays her eggs, and stays inside during their early stages even after they hatch.  The babies feed on food particles suspended in the water column, and the transparent house provides camouflage from predators and some shelter from water movement.

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Above: A barrel shrimp pokes her head out of the barrel.

The mother’s long appendages mean she can even paddle her mutilated salp house through the sunlit waters.

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Above: A barrel shrimp and her barrel.

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