Tuesday, October 10, 2006
You may never have seen shrimp like this ... all nekid with no crispy breading or bed of pasta. Face to face, they have a silly, comical look to them. I think it's the eyes that make them appear goofy. Those compound eyes on moveable stalks allow them a wide field of vision ... pretty important when you are small, tastey, and mostly defenseless.
If you look carefully, you can see the 2 pairs of antennae. If you are a shrimp, the two short ones are used for balance and sensing whether you are upright or not. The two longer ones are for smelling and tasting your environment.
The legs you see above are called walking legs. The shrimp uses them to ... walk.
There should be 5 pairs of these, hence the group name Decapoda, or "ten legs".
Swimming is done calmly with tiny legs beneath the abdomen called swimmerets. My fingers are hiding the swimmerets from view (clever me). When the shrimp is frightened, they swim rapidly backwards by bending the abdomen forward and flairing their tail. The drops of water on the camera lens are from this shrimp doing just that as I held it.
Running right between the eyes is a long, sharp, jagged spine called the "rostrum". By flicking it's head, the shrimp can inflict a painful stick to an unwary handler.
Beautiful swimmers, the blue crab, are also decapods. They share the 2 pair of antennae, stalked compound eyes, and ten legs. The claws (chelipeds) of the crab are just modified legs, so you have to count them.
The last pair of legs are paddle shaped swimming legs, the middle three legs are pointy walking legs, and the front chelipeds are adapted for grabbing, cutting , and crushing. Blue crabs are incredibly quick on the pinch and very defensive. Grabbing one like this with one hand while photographing with the other took some doing. In the end, I wound up slinging the crab back into the river just after the photo op. It had just figured out that it could get me with those pincers by reaching under it's abdomen.
The colors on a blue crab are spectacular. Their topside is more subtle and camouflaged, but the claws and legs have beautiful highlights of blue and red. Blue crabs are tastey, but you will work for the meat you glean from their armored little bodies.
No lobsters were encountered during my solo decapodessy on the St. Johns River last week, (really not their neighborhood)but they are also decapods.
This has been another installment in "If You Only Knew The Animals You Chew".
It's good to appreciate the other side of their story.
I don't know about you, but ...
... I can appreciate and chew at the same time.
Posted by R.Powers at 8:13 PM