Callianassa californiensis (Dana, 1854)



Also Known As: The Bay Ghost Shrimp, and by fisherman as Bass yabbies or one-armed bandits.


Common Misidentification: Callianassa californiensis is confused with the freshwater “Ghost Shrimp”, Palaeomonetes sp., mostly because of its related common name.


Scientific Taxonomic Classification:


Kingdom: Anamalia

        Phyla: Arthropoda

        Sub-Phylum: Crustacea

                        Class: Malacostraca

                        Sub-Class: Eucarida

                                        Order: Decapoda

                                        Suborder: Pleocyemata

                                        Infraorder: Thalassinidea

                                                Family: Callianassidae


Specimen (Above) Collection Information: Collected at the Evergreen State College beach on the mid-day of April 20th, 2004. Their homes (burrows) were destroyed using a Maori technique, which involves jumping in a muddy portion of the beach to in turn sludge the area by pressing down the surrounding sediment and letting water take its place. This is when the Callianassa californiensis will surface. Although the Maori technique is a bit older in comparison to other techniques used by some modern day fisherman, it did prove to work on the collection day with plenty of specimens to observe back at the lab.


Specimens Range: This specific species has been observed from portions of Alaska all the way down to the southern parts of Baja California.


Specimens Size: The size of Callianassa californiensis varies depending on gender. Males are the longer, up to maximum of 10 or more centimeters in size, where as females at maximum length can only be up to around 8 centimeters. There are many accounts of varied maximum sizes seen both in male and female.


Specimens Habitat: Callianassa californiensis lives below the surface of the marine beach in complexly shaped tunnels. Some shapes of the tunnels have been studied and for examples of these systematic tunnels some scientists have used “ant farm” techniques, allowing observation of the underwater tunnel system through glass in a lab setting. Other ways of studying these vast undersurface wonders is by injecting a plaster mold into the home of Callianassa californiensis and then removing the dry plaster mold from the sediment, leaving you the cast of the tunnel system. The shrimps burrow carries much symbiosis with other organisms, while being a crucial protection from predators. The symbiotic animals of a Callianassa californiensis’s burrow include other crabs, worms, other shrimp, and even clams.


 Specimens Diet: Callianassa californiensis ingests simple plankton, and silt (algae) deposits, that are released when scrapping of sediment takes place during burrowing.


Specimens Special Characteristics: Callianassa californiensis has a transparent color with red, orange, and opaque white iridescence in certain illumanatory settings. Additionally, the shrimp is known for its one dominant chelicerae common to only males (seen above). These shrimp are so versatile that Monterey Bay Aquarium states that they can live for up to 6 whole days with out any oxygen.


Species Account Web Page Prepared By: Felix Nau

Date: May 18, 2004

Two Pictures Taken By: Felix Nau


Related Links:


Species Classification Used From:

                Marine Invertebrates of the Pacific Northwest, Eugene N. Kozloff Univ of Wash Press                  1987.