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Fisherman discovers new animal species inside net: ‘Never seen anything like it’

Experts are excited by the find and nominated it as a new Australian species.

A curious fisherman has discovered a tiny new species thriving in a Victorian lake.

Matt Jenkins took out his camera and filmed after he hauled in his net and found thousands of the little shrimp wriggling inside. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life," he said.

After collecting samples from Lake Tambo within the Gippsland Lakes, he shipped a number of preserved specimens to the Australian Museum.

A fisherman's boot on top of his net.
A Victorian fisherman has likely discovered a new species hidden in his net. Source: Matt Jenkins/Australian Museum

That was back in 2018, now five years on scientists working at the museum have proposed the creatures be recognised as a new species of skeleton shrimp.

Three things you didn't know about skeleton shrimp

  • Skeleton shrimp have narrow cylindrical bodies and reduced appendages.

  • They are usually found in marine or estuarine environments.

  • There are around 400 different species of skeleton shrimp.

Other new species discoveries this year

Why are scientists excited about the find?

Professor Shane Ahyong described the find as “exciting” because it shows there is much to be discovered in Australian waters, even in popular areas like the Gippsland Lakes.

A close up image of a skeleton shrimp with a black background.
The newly discovered shrimp is similar in appearance to this creature which is likely from the same family. Source: Australian Museum/Roger Springthorpe

“These tiny skeleton shrimps usually go unnoticed because they look like slivers of seaweed,” he said. “Still, we need to know about them because some species are important food for fish, others tell us about the health of marine ecosystems.”

What do the shrimp look like?

The Australian Museum found the shrimp appeared similar to other shrimp in the family Caprella, but there were clear differences.

Japan’s Caprella acanthogaster is quite similar, but scientists determined its Australian doppelgänger is much smaller and has different antennae.

You can see the shrimp up close in the video below.

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