Saturday, January 11, 2014

Gettin' crabby in Oregon (part 1)

It's time for another adventure! Let's

I mentioned in the last post that I was headed to Oregon for a wedding. It was beautiful and touching and just plain fun! The next day we took advantage of our proximity to the coast and headed out for a walk near the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site. I wasn't expecting to see much other than waves, sand, and sun, but my friend Alice spotted this little fellow:

a sandy-colored smooth bay shrimp

We thought it was dead since it was just lying in the wash zone of the beach. Either my husband or Alice went to pick it up (I don't remember who) and it flipped away from us! We all gave a jump and a scream, then picked it up and put it back in the ocean! It was a good start to a fun beach walk!

This little shrimp isn't just your average cocktail ingredient. Oh no, he's got quite the story. Smooth bay shrimp (Lissograngon stylirostris) host a nasty little parasite named Argeia pugettensis, a bopyrid isopod. The isopod will attach itself to a shrimp's gills and use the shrimp's carapace as an extra layer of shelter. The first one to attach to the shrimp develops into a female.

"Last one to the shrimp is a rotten egg male!" - parasitic isopod

Any subsequent parasite to enter that shrimp's gills will become male and fertilize the female parasite's eggs. Once the little larvae hatch, they head out in search of an intermediate host (namely a calanoid copepod) to ruin someone else's day develop further until it can start the whole process over again by swimming up into a shrimp's gills.

"Gross Steve, you've got something on your back!" - Larry the shrimp
"AH! Larry, you've got something on YOUR back!" - Steve the shrimp
 "AHHH!" - Larry and Steve
"AHHHHHH!" - all the shrimp EVERYWHERE!

Luckily for the shrimp we found, it wasn't infected with anything.


Stay tuned to see more of our beach discoveries!

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