Rimicaris exoculata

Geographic Range

Rimicaris exoculata lives in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal vent system. It is absent in the Menez Gwen hydrothermal field but is abundant at the Transatlantic Geotransverse field. (Llodra, et al., 2000; Lutz, 2003; Lutz, 2004; Van Dover, 2000)


Rimicaris exoculata lives at depths up to 3600 meters in temperatures up to 32°C. This species lives on the sides of sulfide chimneys in sulfide-rich waters. (Lutz, 2003; Lutz, 2004)

  • Range depth
    3600 to 3000 m
    11811.02 to 9842.52 ft

Physical Description

  • Average mass
    1.6 g
    0.06 oz
  • Range length
    4 to 5 cm
    1.57 to 1.97 in



There is no information currently available which explains the mating systems of this species. (Llodra, et al., 2000)

  • Breeding interval
    Throughout the year
  • Breeding season
    Throughout the year
  • Average number of offspring

There is no evidence of parental care in Rimicaris exoculata.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 (high) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    2 to 3 days
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 (high) years


Rimicaris exoculata moves from one vent to another when their original habitat is no longer viable. Usually the larval stage disperses to different communities. The shrimp appears to be social, as thousands have been observed swarming around sulfide chimneys. (Van Dover, 2000; Vereshchaka, 1997)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Rimicaris exoculata feeds on microorganisms that grow on the sides of the sulfide chimneys, and free living microorganisms that float in the water column. It can also feed on photosynthetic particles that float down the water column from surface photo synthesizers. The planktotrophic larvae of Rimicaris exoculata feed on lipids that are stored in their bodies at birth. (Llodra, et al., 2000; Van Dover, 2000)

  • Other Foods
  • microbes


There are a few known predators of this species, including bythograeid crabs, hydrothermal vent anemones, and two larger species of shrimp, Chorocaris chacei and Alvinocaris markensis. Anti-predation mechanisms are unknown. (Van Dover, 2000)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic
  • Known Predators
    • bythograeid crabs, Bythograeidae
    • hydrothermal vent anemonies, Actiniaria
    • Chorocaris chacei
    • Alvinocaris markensis

Ecosystem Roles

Rimicaris exoculata is the most abundant species found on sulfide chimneys in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Potentially, it may be considered a keystone species. (Van Dover, 2000)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no specific benefits of Rimicaris exoculata to humans. (Van Dover, 2000)

  • Positive Impacts
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Rimicaris exoculata on humans.

Conservation Status

Rimicaris exoculata is not considered endangered or threatened.


Melissa Grimm (author), Rutgers University, Kruti Patel (author), Rutgers University, David V. Howe (editor), Rutgers University, Renee Mulcrone (editor), Special Projects.


Atlantic Ocean

the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.

World Map


on or near the ocean floor in the deep ocean. Abyssal regions are characterized by complete lack of light, extremely high water pressure, low nutrient availability, and continuous cold (3 degrees C).


Referring to an animal that lives on or near the bottom of a body of water. Also an aquatic biome consisting of the ocean bottom below the pelagic and coastal zones. Bottom habitats in the very deepest oceans (below 9000 m) are sometimes referred to as the abyssal zone. see also oceanic vent.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.

indeterminate growth

Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.


(as keyword in perception channel section) This animal has a special ability to detect heat from other organisms in its environment.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic vent

Areas of the deep sea floor where continental plates are being pushed apart. Oceanic vents are places where hot sulfur-rich water is released from the ocean floor. An aquatic biome.


generates and uses light to communicate


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

saltwater or marine

mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


Allen, C., J. Copley, P. Tyler. 2001. Lipid partitioning in the hydrothermal vent shrimp Rimicaris exoculata. Marine Ecology, 22(3): 241-253.

Copley, J., P. Jorgensen, R. Sohn. 2007. Assesement of decadal-scale ecological change at a deep Mid-Atlantic hydrothermal vent and reproductive time-series in the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata. Marine Biological Association of United Kingdom, 87: 859-867.

Gebruk, A., E. Southward, H. Kennedy, A. Southward. 2000. Food sources, behaviour, and distribution of hydrothermal vent shrimps at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Marine Biological Association of United Kingdom, 80: 485-499.

Llodra, E., P. Tyler, J. Copley. 2000. Reproductive biology of caridean shrimp, Rimicaris exoculata, Chorocaris chacei, and Mirocaris fotunata, from hydrothermal vents. Marine Biology, 80: 473-484.

Lutz, R. 2003. Dawn in the deep. National Geographic, 203: 92-103.

Lutz, R. 2004. Exploring volcanoes of the deep sea. Asian Geographic, 3: 26-35.

Martin, J., R. Hessler. 1990. Chrocaris vandoverae, a new genus and species of hydrothermal vent shrimp (Crustacea, Decepoda, Bresilidae) from the Western Pacific. Contributions in Science, 417/4: 1.

Van Dover, C., B. Fry, J. Grassle, S. Humphris, P. Rona. 1988. Feeding biology of the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata at hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Marine Biology, 98: 209-216. Accessed January 20, 2011 at http://www.springerlink.com/content/q60j1455n25130w8/fulltext.pdf?page=1.

Van Dover, C. 2000. The ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Vereshchaka, A. 1997. Comparative morphological studies on four populations of the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Deep-Sea Research, 44(11): 1905-1921.