Ever come across a large coral head, day or night (more relevant at night) and see hundreds of beady shining little eyes staring at you? Or perhaps you move in closer to a cave or the underside of a coral head to notice two pairs of white whiskers protruding out from the gloom? Cleaner shrimp are the culprits.
Cleaner Shrimp can be great fun to shoot especially using macro lenses, which you’ll see below. They have incredibly intricate bodies, shapes, sizes and colours. Mostly all possess five pairs of legs, two large clawed arms and two or more smaller ones, a fanned tail used for balance and propulsion to escape a tight situation, two or more pairs of antenna, and a rostrum, a sort of toothed battering ram-looking protrusion from the fore of the main carapace. Imagine a unicorn, but with ten legs and pincers, and you’ve got yourself a cleaner shrimp.
In the limited experience I have photographing these little guys, I’ve noticed that they tend to be very skittish and can jet away with a powerful thrust from their tails quite quickly at the first sign of sudden movement, which is why zooming in works very well, combined with a steady hand. Alternatively, using a macro lens and moving in closer very VERY slowly produces great shots too. Buoyancy once again is key so as not to disturb these fragile, amazingly beautiful little creatures, that add so much vibrancy, apparent personality and uniqueness to the underwater world we love so much.