Mystery shrimp

The Mystery Shrimp
Veleronia laevifrons?

While experimenting with an extension tube
(to get larger images of really small things)
I took a photo of a gorgonian in 100' of water off La Jolla,
just to see how the focus and exposure
would turn out.  Upon close inspection of the slide,
I noticed what looked like transparent legs
wrapped around the gorgonian.

The next week, while diving off the Coronados Islands, just south of
San Diego, I saw another gorgonian, and looked closely within.
Sure enough, there were a couple of really small shrimp,
about 1/4" (7 mm.) in length.  They blended in
with their background so well, they were almost invisible.
In fact, if you look closely, you can see a claw
in the lower right-hand side of the photo,
at the end of a transparent arm.

None of my friends -- many with considerable knowledge
of local species -- has ever seen one of these before.
Neither has the local expert at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
But one of his acquaintances, to whom he forwarded this photo, wrote:
"From the knobby body and the habitat on a gorgonian,
I'd say it's Veleronia laevifrons. . .  [If so,] this is a major
range extension.   This species usually ranges from the
central Gulf of California south to the Galapagos."

Unfortunately, I was still not used to the set-up,
and my photos came out under-exposed and dark.
I've lightened this image up considerably in Photoshop,
so the quality is not what I would have liked.
I'd like to take a better shot, but I haven't
found another since this photo was taken.

Lens: 60mm Micro Nikkor w/ PK-13 extension tube
Film: Kodak E100VS
Location: Los Coronados Islands, Mexico.
Depth: 30 feet/10 meters
©2001 Garry McCarthy