More on the Red Cave Shrimp

We got the following information from Bill Marx on Lubbers.  Thanks a lot Bill!!

Read your recent post on the Little Harbor shrimp with interest, I was going to post comment online but didn’t know if I could include links or pictures.

We have a house and property on Lubbers Quarters and have these shrimp living in anchialine pools pretty much in the center of the island, probably 1/4 mile from either shoreline. I believe they are red cuban cave shrimp, Barbouria cubensis, but not 100% sure. I have attached a high res pic of one we caught to photograph several years ago.

The interesting thing about these shrimp that the Little Harbor poster may like to know is that anchialine shrimp seem to be be considered sacred by many Indo-pacific cultures.

In Fiji, legend is that you will have a shipwreck if you disturb them:

In Hawaii, there is a legend involving these shrimp and a murdered princess:

Elsewhere I have read that the “chiefs” on some the the Pacific islands would ‘summon’ the shrimp by banging a pole on the ground at the entrance of their caves, interestingly we have found that banging on the rocks near them tends to bring more to the surface as well. They also seem to come and go with the tides.

Below is a discussion we had back in  2008 with Tom Iliffe who is a marine biology professor in Texas who has worked in Abaco and written about similar species. He is the one who identified them as Cuban cave shrimp. They are very cool interesting creatures, ours have been there for years. Hopefully this helps, we have more pictures of them and even underwater video if anyone needs it:


“Your photos appear to be Barbouria cubensis, the Cuban cave shrimp, which is known from several pools and caves on Abaco as well as other locations – see:

It would be interesting to periodically monitor this population.  In similar pools, these shrimp are present during the day, but disappear into holes connecting to as yet undiscovered caves during the night.  Also the color pattern can vary from the bright red as in your photos to white, yellow or pink.  This is due to chromatophore, pigment containing spots, that can expand or contract at will.  Do you observe any variation in color?  Are the shrimp present year round in the pool?  Are they all about the same size or is there a range in sizes?”


By | 2015-04-13T12:05:33-05:00 April 13th, 2015|Categories: Blue Holes, Caves, Invertebrates|8 Comments

About the Author:

Craig Layman
My lab’s interdisciplinary pursuits provide for a multi-faceted understanding of environmental change in the coastal realm. We are ecologists, asking questions that span population, community, ecosystem and evolutionary sub-disciplines. We often use a food web based perspective, exploring top-down (e.g., predation) and bottom-up (e.g., nutrient excretion) mechanisms by which animals affect ecosystem processes. All of our efforts are framed within a broader outreach framework, directly integrating science and education, using approaches such as this website.


  1. Avatar
    ali ball April 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    On my last visit to the “sacred shrimp”, I found a new factor in the equation: there is an upwelling from the bottom of the hole where most of the shrimp congregate. Just a couple of small holes in the bottom of the very soft mud, but water is shooting up through them strongly enough to lift small leaves several inches off the bottom. Some shrimp were burying right into these holes. So maybe they were congregating on the nearby wall because there’s a fresh food supply coming in through these holes.

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    Robert Ditter September 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I am very familiar with there shrimp, as my PhD research is focus on them. I would love to see the photos and videos you mentioned, and maybe find out a little bit more about the places you are seeing them.

    I think I might be addressing topics covered in two post in my comment (this post and “Monthly Shrimp Sex?”). Just from the photo I cannot say 100%, that it is B. cubensis, but it definitely looks like it. The water “shooting up through them” is marine water flowing in from the tide, either through a seep or a larger conduit. There presence or absence in the pools appears to be highly dependent on tide, and that they prefer seawater to the overlying water in the pool. I believe they are actually following the tide into the pools in search of food, and then follow it back out again. As far as the ability to change color, they are able to do it. From what I have observed it tends to be a gradual change, but I haven’t been able to figure out what the trigger is. I have observed individuals in captivity, and it appears to be done on an individual basis (I have seen a mix of colors hanging out together). I have also seen a broad range in size. I am also guessing that when you are just seeing a couple in the hole, it might have been some individuals who didn’t make it out of the hole before the tide went out.

    I would think that they are present year round, and if they follow the pattern of other Atlantic caridean shrimp species they probably mate once or twice a year. If and how they are able to follow reproductive cues based on the phase of the moon is a mystery to me, since they do live in and around caves where there is little to no light. My best guess is that their reproduction is more heavily dependent on seasonal temperature cues.

    Sorry if this is overly long, I just got excited to see other people with an interest in these enigmatic shrimp.

    If you are interesting in chatting more about these guys or would like to see some of the photos and videos I have taken of these guys, please feel free to shoot me an email (

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    monolagu March 24, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    good article bro. i like it

  4. Avatar
    iranian content February 21, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Thanks for the site and the good contents.

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    Make My Trip Coupons March 20, 2019 at 3:29 am

    WOW, this is amazing, I never read about this creature. I am going to search more about Red Cave Shrimp. Very interesting stuff.

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    Oxford girl March 27, 2019 at 9:57 am

    So glad I stumble upon this article, It was very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Avatar
    Review Wide December 7, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Obviously great article. Highly recommended.

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    Berita olahraga December 15, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    red shrimp is adorable and beautiful if kept in aquarium

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