Cleaner Shrimp (Urocaridella antonbruunii) and Coral Grouper (Cephalopholis miniata)
Cleaner shrimp form mutualistic relationships with many fish species. The shrimp eat parasites off the fish, even venturing deep inside the mouth to do so. Amazingly, the fish getting cleaned never attempt to eat the shrimp.
An Emperor Shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) on its host nudibranch (Mexichromis multituberculata), Seraya, Bali
Bubble Coral Shrimp [Vir philippinensis] by edpdiver on Flickr.
One of my favourite shrimp to spot, simply because it is so hard to.
This odd couple consists of a goby and a shrimp. The shrimp, who has poor eyesight, dug their burrow and keeps it clean, while the goby is on the lookout for predators. It pushes the shrimp down the burrow when it detects danger. (Desert Seas - National Geographic Channel)
The goby signals ‘levels’ of danger by different flicks of it’s tail. The shrimp can detect the vibrations and stay in the burrow until the threat disappears, or the Goby retreats.
There’s perhaps no other animal on Earth so synonymous with all things diminutive as the modestly framed shrimp — but, as it turns out, not everything about those famed crustaceans is small. Biologists say that common shrimp farming methods across Asia are so devastating to fragile ecosystems as to make ordering a simple shrimp cocktail one of the worst things you could do for the environment in the name of grabbing some grub.
Not to mention the actual footprint on the seafloor from shrimp trawlers. So not only are Mangroves cleared for shrimp farming, but the reefs too. With a double-edged sword cutting into coastal ecosystems, our appetite for Shrimp will soon leave us wanting.
Squat Shrimp (Thor amboiensis) all in a row
Squat Shrimp (Thor amboinensis)
Thor amboinensis is sometimes nicknamed the sexy shrimp due to its tendency to vibrate its abdomen while walking.
A team of researchers from the University of Bristol has created a specialized camera that allows us to see things as reef-dwelling animals do.
I think it would be more accurate to say becoming a conservationist has changed my seafood views. The two aren’t always synonymous.
I started by giving up Tuna. I hope I don’t need to explain why, but the rapid demise of the Blue Fin really got to me, and with similar fishing methods being employed for other species, I thought it was a small contribution I could make.
My last job was ridden with conservationists of different varieties. My best friend is a super strict vegetarian, an educated decision on her part having researched practices behind different food stocks. I learnt a lot from her, and more from teaching conservation issues.
The next thing for me was shrimp. In my opinion it’s the worst food you can buy. Wild shrimp are generally caught by trawling - the most destructive fishing method around. With by-catch waste at 15kg to every 1kg of shrimp harvested, my conscience couldn’t stomach it. Additionally shrimp aquaculture has led to the deforestation of mangroves all over the world, adding to a plethora of other threats that combined, have led to mangroves being the most endangered coastal ecosystem.
Giving up shrimp meant giving up much more than I thought it would - food in Singapore (where I was living at the time) is riddled with shrimp, prawns, shrimp paste…. but I’m pretty stubborn and I couldn’t go back on my word.
Then I pledged to eat only sustainable seafood. Not that there’s much of that in Asia. But then controversies with Marine Conservation Society sustainable certifications made me distrust those labels.
From there, it was a few short steps to giving up all seafood. Most of my favourite dishes contained shrimp, so it actually wasn’t all that difficult.
But I do miss it. I miss:
- Hokkien mee
- Fish and chips (my god I miss this)
- Oyster sauce
- Lea & Perrins Worcester sauce
… to name but a few.
I believe that you do what you can to make a difference. You have to make decisions that work for you. Once in a blue moon I will “treat” myself to something seafoody. At New Years I had a couple of Siomai. The last time my grandfather took me out for a meal, I had fish and chips (though not Cod), because that was “our thing” and I knew I didn’t have much time left with him.
My point is, if you can’t give up EVERYTHING, then don’t. Do as much as you can, and make it work for you. Every little helps.
Are you still enjoying your seafood platter? Turtle by-catch on shrimp nets.