Featured invertebrates

Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

These amazing eight-legged creatures are widely regarded as the most intelligent of all invertebrates. Their lack of a skeleton means that they are able to squeeze their muscular bodies into tiny crevices, which is very useful as this helps them to escape predators and to capture prey. They are often found living on reefs and in mussel beds and are able to camouflage themselves by changing colour and texture. In addition to their many amazing adaptations they are also able to expel ink and shoot rapidly away from predators.

Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)

 

Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)

This creature is also known as the moon jelly, common jellyfish or saucer jellyfish. Moon jellyfish, unlike other species of jellyfish, have both oral arms and tentacles to facilitate feeding. The medusa, bell and moon jellyfish can range from 5cm to 40cm in size. Moon jellyfish are commonly found in coastal regions in warm and temperate waters. The sting of the moon jellyfish is not dangerous to humans.

Rock lobster (Panulirus homarus)

 

 

Rock lobster (Panulirus homarus)

Common on inshore reefs along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, rock lobsters are a popular delicacy in many restaurants. These crustaceans reach 25cm in length. They feed primarily on brown mussels, emerging from their holes at night to feed. When threatened, they may shed a leg to distract the predator. The missing leg regrows. Rock lobsters are protected by bag limits in KwaZulu-Natal, and may not be sold.

Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinens)

 

Skunk cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinens)

The skunk cleaner shrimp or Pacific cleaner shrimp scavenges for parasites and dead tissue on fish. This species is widespread in the Red Sea and tropical Indo-Pacific. Skunk cleaner shrimp have been known to eat their own kind during mating season. Once reproduction has occurred and the eggs are fertilised, the shrimp acting as the male may eat the female.