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Hong Kong Corals & the Associated Marine Life

Hong Kong Corals & the Associated Marine Life

> Other marine organisms

Phylum Arthropoda - Shrimps, Lobsters & Crabs  

Arthropoda is the largest phylum of living creatures. It is composed of roughly one million species, accounting for over three-quarter of all animals described. Class Crustacea of this phylum is a dominant group found in coral areas. It includes not only the well-known lobsters, shrimps and crabs, but also the land-dominating insects. This group of organisms is incredibly diverse with regard to sizes, shapes, colours and life styles.

Crustaceans are characterized by the presence of a rigid external skeleton, a segmented body, jointed limbs with internal muscular attachment, two pairs of antennae and compound eyes. Since they grow continuously throughout the life cycle, their shells are moulted and replaced at regular intervals.

Some shrimps and crabs form symbiotic associations with a large variety of organisms, including sea urchin, starfish, sea anemones, coral and so on. The basis of the association is variable depending on the partners involved. In most of the cases, shelter, protection and/or food can be obtained from each other.

An interesting symbiosis exists between alpheus shrimp and goby. Since the shrimp has extremely poor vision, it needs a partner as "watchdog". The goby stands guard at the entrance of their living burrow and signals the shrimp for danger by flicking the tail. As a return, the shrimp excavates continuously to maintain their living place.

More than 240 species of Pontoniine commensal shrimp are known from the Indo-Pacific and 20 species are known from local waters. There are over 800 species of marine crab in waters around China but the number of species found in Hong Kong is still unknown.


Banded Coral Shrimp
Banded Coral Shrimp 
Stenopus  hispidus  (Stenopodidae)

This well-known cleaner shrimp is generally found in pairs, with the female being larger than the male.



Hingebeak Shrimp

Hingebeak Shrimp 
Rhynchocinetes  sp. (Rhynchocinetidae)

This hingebeak shrimp is a nocturnal animal, often remaining in or close to crevices and caves during the day. Large eyes and the sharp angle along the body characterize the family. The large pincers in this individual distinguish it as a male.

Hingebeak Shrimp

Hingebeak Shrimp 
Rhynchocinetes  rugulosa

This species is distinguished by the dark marking on the dorsal side of its bend body. It occurs in groups in caves or in crevices.




Commensal Shrimps


Anemone Shrimp

         Anemone Shrimp          Periclimenes  cf.  holthuisi  (Palaemonidae)

This beautiful shrimp is commonly found in the sea-anemone   Entacmea  uadricolor. It was first described from specimens caught in Hong Kong waters. The most obvious feature of this species is the white V-shape on the third abdomen segment.

Anemone Shrimp

         Anemone Shrimp            Periclimenes  cf.  brevicarpalis (Palaemonidae)

This small shrimp associates with sea anemones. It is distinguished by the pattern of white spots and the five black and yellow spots on the tail. It has not previously been recorded from Hong Kong.


Anemone Shrimp

               Anemone Shrimp             Periclimenes  ornatus (Palaemonidae)

This anemone-associated shrimp is characterized by the red colour on the body and the purple and white patterns on legs, pincers and tail. This species was firstly described from a specimen collected at Lung Ha Wan, Hong Kong.

Needle Shrimp

            Needle Shrimp         Stegoporitonia  commensalis (Palaemonidae)

This distinctive commensal shrimp is easily recognised by the flattened body and the dark body colour with three thin white stripes. It only inhabits the spines of sea urchins.


Starfish Shrimp

   Starfish Shrimp  Periclimenes  soror  (Palaemonidae)

This tiny shrimp lives on a starfish, and can also be found on sea cucumbers.




Gorgonian Shrimp, Tozeuma sp.

Gorgonian Shrimp, Tozeuma  sp.

This "long-nose" shrimp lives together with a gorgonian.

Alpheus sp.

Alpheus  sp. and goby

This shrimp lives with the goby Amblyeleotris guttata. It excavates continuously to maintain the living burrow in exchange for a "watchdog" service provided by the goby.


Alpheus sp.

Alpheus sp. and goby 

The watch dog of this shrimp is goby,  Cryptocentrus  sp.

Alpheus sp.

Alpheus sp.

The partner of this shrimp is goby,  Lotilia  graciliosa.





Chinese Spiny Lobster
Chinese Spiny Lobster 
Panulirus  stimpsoni  (Palinuridae)

This species is characterized by the white strips on the pereiopods (legs). It is endemic in Hong Kong waters and appears to be the most abundant spiny lobster in mainland China.



Spotted Box Crab

        Spotted Box Crab          
Calappa  philargius  (Calappidae)

The thin, spindly legs of box crabs can be withdrawn close to the body, giving them a box-like appearance. Spotted Box-crabs are most easily seen at night when they emerge from the sand for feeding.

Box Crab

        Box Crab          
Calappa gallus

Box crab is also known as shame faced crab because its claws are held in front of the head, looking like hiding its face behind the claws.


Blue-swimming Crab
            Blue-swimming Crab                  Portunus  pelagicus      (Portunidae)

The Blue-swimming Crab is a local delicacy. It is often seen half buried in sand or mud.



Tropiometra afra

Tropiometra  afra

The species of commensal crab is always associated with crinoids, often occurring as a male and female pair.


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