A Critically Endangered cave-dwelling crustacean, Sterrer’s cave shrimp is bright red with characteristic white bands on the leg joints and three white spots on the tail (3). Specialised appendages, which help in the trapping of prey, are red at the base, fading to white towards the tip, and extend from a smooth, broad, short rostrum (2)(3). The abdominal segments are rounded, with the fifth segment possessing a sharp spine, and dark eyes sit prominently on the head (3). There is some degree of variation in the appearance of Sterrer’s cave shrimp across its range, and individuals found in Mexico typically have longer antennae than those found elsewhere (4).
A female specimen collected carried an estimated 2,000 tiny eggs. The small size of these eggs would suggest a relatively long planktonic larval stage (4). Little else is known of this species’ biology.
With so little known about this enigmatic species, assessing the level of threats it faces is very challenging. It is currently known from only a handful of locations; however, due to the extended period in which the larval shrimp are thought to remain in the plankton, passively floating in oceanic currents, it is possible that Sterrer’s cave shrimp will be discovered in new areas of suitable habitat within the Caribbean region (4).
There are currently no conservation measures underway targeting this little-known shrimp (1). As Sterrer’s cave shrimp is restricted to such a specific habitat, affording adequate protection to the caves in which it is found may be deemed a high priority for its conservation.
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Coastal bodies of standing waters that have no surface connections to them ocean but display both tidal fluctuations and salinity ranges characteristic of fresh and brackish waters, indicating the presence of subsurface connections to the watertable and ocean.
Diverse group of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters and barnacles.
Referring to microscopic aquatic organisms that passively float in open water.
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