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121. Sculptured Slipper Lobster (Parribacus antarcticus)



Subject:

A Sculptured Slipper Lobster (Parribacus antarcticus) carries her eggs under her forward curved tail.


These shy creatures only venture out at night and are therefore seldom seen by scuba divers, underwater videographers, and photographers. During the daytime, they congregate in small groups and hide under ledges and in dark crevices. The Sculptured Slipper Lobster, which can reach a total length of 20cm/8 inches, is found in all tropical and subtropical seas of our blue planet.


They prefer shallow waters, from the sub-littoral zone down to 20m/65ft, on coral reefs and rocky reefs, often on the seaward edges of the reef plateau and always in the vicinity of sandy bottoms.


This slipper lobster is a carnivore. From dusk till dawn, it ventures out on the sandy substrate to feed on a variety of small crustaceans, echinoderms, and mollusks. Although its preferred way of locomotion is crawling using its pereiopods (the legs of crustaceans), when the animal comes under attack, it can very quickly swim backward by using its tail.


Slipper lobsters come in both sexes. Males, who are slightly larger than females, deposit a spermatophore (a sperm packet) on the female’s abdomen. The female will release up to 100,000 tiny eggs which she will carry underneath her flattened body. These eggs are held in place by her forward curved tail where they undergo a colour change from orange to brown. After 2 weeks or so, the eggs will hatch. The tiny offspring become planktonic and thus at the mercy of the ocean’s currents to settle almost a year later on a distant reef, making this lobster one of the most widely distributed crustaceans of our world. Only about one in every thousand will have survived this oceanic odyssey. The little juvenile lobster that made it to this stage faces again a multitude of predators. Here only a single lucky one in every hundred or so will make it into adulthood and be able to reproduce.


Technique:

When filming on a sandy area, it is best to put your camera on the bottom while gliding your camera along with your subject in order to film as horizontally as possible. Filming slightly upwards will produce even better quality images. Filming from above, a very common mistake by novice underwater videographers, will almost never give you good footage.


Filming underwater at night can be a challenge as your video lights will attract a lot of unwanted small creatures. These frantically swarming animals can be a spoilsport if they decide to cloud between the camera and the subject. Trying to chase these annoying multitudes of little critters away by waving your hands won’t help as the African proverb says; a flea can trouble a lion more than the lion can harm a flea.


However, you should be able to avoid this inconvenience by only turning on your video lights when filming and by placing your lights high enough and away from the camera’s underwater dome so that they will not be seen in the footage.


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