Belizean Stomatopods + One Guest

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Photo: Neogonodactylus oerstedii. A. Franklin

What stomatopods are actually found in Belizean waters? I have certainly not found them all, but I can tell you about a few of the ones I have found. (For more general stomatopod info, check my previous post here)

N. oerstedii female (3)

Photo: Neogonodactylus oerstedii. A. Franklin

First up, my highly abundant study species, Neogonodactylus oerstedii. This trip alone, I have already found 50 of them. They are smasher stomatopods which means that they punch their prey and live in cavities in coral, rock and even conch shells. Usually, the ones I find are about 20mm to 45mm long, although this trip I’ve found several that are 50mm+ long! Perhaps these guys are slowly taking over the reef.

pseudo

Photo: Pseudosquilla ciliata. A. Franklin

Throughout my time here, I’ve also found several Pseudosquilla ciliata. These guys are spearers rather than smashers. So, as the name implies, they spear their prey. On the last segment of their raptorial arm are several spikes which are used to impale their prey lightening quick. They live in small U-shaped burrows in the sand which they dig out themselves.

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Photo: Neogonodactylus curacaoensis. A. Franklin

On my first trip here, my colleague found this amazing specimen on a dive. This gorgeous critter is Neogonodactylus curacaoensis and is a smasher. They are found deeper than the two species mentioned above; this one was found in about 10-15m of water. It was seen peeking it’s head out of a sponge, then quickly running through the inside of the sponge and sticking it’s head out of another opening. Apparently it was quite hard to capture!

lysio

Photo: Lysiosquillina glabriuscula. A. Franklin

This ginormous fellow (~20cm long) is Lysiosquillina glabriuscula. There are several of them in very shallow (~20cm) water all around the island. They dig their own long burrows (no-one is really sure how long) and cover the opening with sand during the day. At dawn and dusk they sit with their eyes poking out of the burrow opening, waiting for something delicious to swim past and then spear it! They also have yellow fluorescent markings which could be used as a signal.  As a side note, today I saw the biggest one I have ever seen! I intend to get some video of it tomorrow.

occy

Photo: Octopus! A. Franklin

Lastly, here is a little octopus. It was a hitchhiker on the rubble I collected today and I couldn’t help but snap some photos. Only a tiny bit larger than a 5 cent piece (Aus) or a dime (USA).

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