The Hunt for NEON Crustaceans!

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Posted by Brittany Cummings on September 21, 2020 at 12:17:22:

Hello Everyone!

As a scientific diver, I am hoping to tap into your wealth of knowledge as local dive naturalists.
I am looking for rare colorful amphipods known as Podocerus cristatus (see pictures in attached poster). These critters are small (~2-5mm) crustaceans that are often camouflaged against subtidal habitat. However, some divers (including me!) have spotted individuals with remarkably bright color patterns along the west coast of North America. Coloration can range from exciting red fluorescence to neon patterns that mimic local nudibranch species (e.g., Flabellina trilineata).

Both colorful and camouflaged individuals are rarely documented and I need help collecting specimens for DNA analysis. At my sites in the San Juan Islands (WA), I typically find them at depths from 20-100 ft in hard bottom areas that experience low to high current. In California, they can even be found at intertidal depths. They use their spider-like body to cling to red algae, branching bryozoans, hydroids, sponges and tunicates while they extend their antennae into the water to filter feed. You probably won’t be able to spot the camouflaged individuals, but the colorful ones should be more obvious and are a super exciting find.

If you see such an amphipod, please:
1. Take a picture, if possible.
2. Note date, time, site, habitat, and appearance of individual.
3. If you have access to ≥70% ethanol:
- Collect LIVE specimens in a jar or bag with seawater.
- Take a picture of each specimen in a tray of seawater.
- Place individual specimens in small labelled vials of COLD ethanol.
4. Contact me, at bmc825@gmail.com.

You will be credited for your help in any future scientific articles or presentations.

I am excited to hear from you all soon!


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