While writing my previous post about spawning aggregations in Palau, I rummaged through photos from my last visit to the island nation and found this:
Anyone know what this is?
These critters were relatively common during late-night blackwater dives. They're small, like half the size of my pinky fingernail or smaller, and they zip about in erratic patterns, making full use of their multitude of multi-jointed appendages.
Given their diminutive proportions and penchant for Brownian motion, they are incredibly frustrating to photograph.
They come in a range of colours. Besides this orange and magenta pattern, I recall seeing deep purple, as well as tan. I wouldn't be surprised if there are more variations.
I'm thinking these manga-esque critters are larval crustaceans of some sort.
If you know what this animal is, please clue me in!
[Update via Jody Martin (crab curator) and Leslie Harris (polychaete worm expert) at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles: Likely the megalop stage of crab development, which is the final pelagic stage before settling down to change to benthic form. Possibly Carpilius juvenile.]