Sterrer’s cave shrimp (Parhippolyte sterreri)

Sterrer's cave shrimp, Parhippolyte sterreri
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Sterrer’s cave shrimp fact file

Sterrer’s cave shrimp description

GenusParhippolyte (1)

A Critically Endangered cave-dwelling crustacean, Sterrer’s cave shrimp is bright red with characteristic white bands on the leg joints and three white spots on the tail (3). Specialised appendages, which help in the trapping of prey, are red at the base, fading to white towards the tip, and extend from a smooth, broad, short rostrum (2) (3). The abdominal segments are rounded, with the fifth segment possessing a sharp spine, and dark eyes sit prominently on the head (3). There is some degree of variation in the appearance of Sterrer’s cave shrimp across its range, and individuals found in Mexico typically have longer antennae than those found elsewhere (4)

Somersiella sterreri.
Male length (including rostrum): c. 15.3 mm (2)
Female length (including rostrum): c. 30.7 mm (2)

Sterrer’s cave shrimp biology

A female specimen collected carried an estimated 2,000 tiny eggs. The small size of these eggs would suggest a relatively long planktonic larval stage (4). Little else is known of this species’ biology.


Sterrer’s cave shrimp range

Sterrer’s cave shrimp is known to occur on Grand Bahama, Exuma Cays and Andros in the Bahamas, as well as at Chalk Cave and Tucker’s Town Cave in Bermuda and at Cozumel in Mexico (1) (3).


Sterrer’s cave shrimp habitat

Found in inland anchialine caves in Bermuda and marine caves in the Bahamas and Mexico (2).


Sterrer’s cave shrimp status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered


Sterrer’s cave shrimp threats

With so little known about this enigmatic species, assessing the level of threats it faces is very challenging. It is currently known from only a handful of locations; however, due to the extended period in which the larval shrimp are thought to remain in the plankton, passively floating in oceanic currents, it is possible that Sterrer’s cave shrimp will be discovered in new areas of suitable habitat within the Caribbean region (4).  


Sterrer’s cave shrimp conservation

There are currently no conservation measures underway targeting this little-known shrimp (1). As Sterrer’s cave shrimp is restricted to such a specific habitat, affording adequate protection to the caves in which it is found may be deemed a high priority for its conservation.

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To find out more about conservation in Bermuda, see:

  • The Bermuda National Trust:
  • Procter, D. and Fleming, L.V. (1999) Biodiversity: the UK Overseas Territories. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, UK.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



Coastal bodies of standing waters that have no surface connections to them ocean but display both tidal fluctuations and salinity ranges characteristic of fresh and brackish waters, indicating the presence of subsurface connections to the watertable and ocean.
Diverse group of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters and barnacles.
Referring to microscopic aquatic organisms that passively float in open water.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2010)
  2. Hart, J.W.Jr. and Manning, R.B. (1981) The cavernicolous caridean shrimps of Bermuda (Alpheidae, Hippolytidae, and Atyidae). Journal of Crustacean Biology, 1: 441-456.
  3. Anchialine Caves and Cave Fauna of the World (September, 2010)
  4. Kensley, B. (1988) New species and records of cave shrimps from the Yucatan Peninsula (Decapoda: Agostocarididae and Hippolytidae). Journal of Crustacean Biology, 8: 688-699.

Image credit

Sterrer's cave shrimp, Parhippolyte sterreri  
Sterrer's cave shrimp, Parhippolyte sterreri

© Dr. Thomas M. Iliffe

Dr. Thomas M. Iliffe
Department of Marine Biology
Texas A&M University at Galveston
5007 Ave. U
United States of America


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