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Pram Shrimp discovered at Kilkee, Co Clare

Declan Quigley reports: “While walking along the shore at Kilkee, Co Clare on November 30,, Kevin Harte discovered an unusual Pram Shrimp (Phronima sedentaria) peeping out of its gelatinous ‘house’ (Photo shows).

Pram Shrimp (Phronima sedentaria) discovered by Kevin Harte stranded at Kilkee, Co Clare (30.11.2020)

The Pram Shrimp is a oceanic bathy-pelagic hyperid amphipod which is often found living inside transparent pelagic tunicates such as salps and pyrosomes which it parasities and fashions into a gelatinous barrel-like house where it shelters and rears its young. The species derived its common name from observations of it swimming and pushing its barrel full of young through the water. Although the Pram Shrimp has a circumglobal distribution, the northern limit of its distribution in NW European waters is off the Shetland Islands, and late autumn would appear to be the hatching season in the North Atlantic.

The Pram Shrimp was first recorded from Irish offshore waters (Porcupine Bank) during 1888, and up to 1911 several specimen were taken during research cruises off the west coast at depths ranging from near surface (27m) down to 3420m. Since the mid-1980s stranded specimens have been recorded intermittently but occasionally in large numbers along the SW, W, NW, and NE coasts, the vast majority during the winter months, particularly during December and January (85%). This offshore species would appear to be carried ashore during particularly severe winter storms. Mass standings were recently reported during December 2004 (Sligo), December 2011 (Kerry), and January 2019 (Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and Antrim) [PHoto below].

Pram Shrimps stranded in Co Donegal during January 2019 (Michael Cunninhham)

• Declan is always interested in receiving reports about unusual specimens. 087-6458485; Email: declanquigley@eircom.net