CAPTURING THE CRITTERS!  (On film & paper)

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Bryan Yoshimura of Honolulu was one of David Chai's early customers and has been growing opae-ula as a hobby longer than most. He and Christine are owners of a craft shop called It's About Time near Ward Warehouse and specializes in framing 1,001 golden folded wedding cranes and other creative gifts.  You may meet them as they participate in major craft fairs throughout Hawaii State.  

The Yoshimuras keep several tanks on cabinets near eye-level at their business and in looking at them every time they pass, they've been able to spot things before anyone else! They've been very generous and willing to share their photos with Fuku-Bonsai and other opae-ula researchers.  They were amongst my early teachers and are premier members of the Micro-Lobster Team.  Mahalo Bryan and Christine!             

Mircro-Lobster eggs Bryan 4in 72dpi original.jpg (5275 bytes)        FIRST PHOTO!  Back in 2003,  there were no known photos of a berried female and it was exciting to receive this from Bryan! In their natural anchialine ponds, no berried female has ever been observed as all molting, breeding and egg-carrying is believed to take place in the underground part of their habitats. Scientific literature tell of berried females being observed in aquaculture researcher's aquariums.  Bryan's photo is believed to be the first published.  
Micro-Lobster EGGS 4in 72dpi enhanced.jpg (6684 bytes)        Computer enhancement by David Fukumoto. A full-grown opae-ula is about 1/2" long and it's difficult to take a good clear photo without special equipment.  Bryan had already computer enlarged the photo sent to me.  It was taken into Adobe Photoshop and enhanced to for sharpness and to show detail.     Photo and enhancement copyright Fuku-Bonsai 2003


At the end of 2004, Bryan sent a full CD of extraordinary photos that he took with his digital camera and utilizing a 5x jeweler's loupe handheld in front of the lens.  He moves his body back and forth until the subject is sharply in focus. In taking several, there usually is at least one clear one!

The following were selected to pretty much covers the entire life cycle of opae-ula!

     PRE-MOLTING!  A female will sharply arch and an opening appears between the carapace (body) and tail section to start the molting process. This is believed to be a female based upon the long swimmerets that will hold the eggs in the future.  Crustaceans are known to mate only after a female molts.
      DEVELOPING EGGS.  Dark red spots seen through the transparent body are believed to be eggs developing in the carapace.  The male has attached a sperm packet near the opening between the legs and as the eggs emerge, they are fertilized and attached to the swimmerets where the continual fanning keeps the eggs healthy.
     ABORTING EGGS.  Sometimes a female will prematurely drop her eggs.  The brood period is about 35 days and usually the eggs are released just prior to hatching.  Those that are dropped within three days of full term usually hatch as a membrane protects the eggs about 3 days. Those aborted earlier don't hatch.  There are usually 5 to 15 eggs.  However David Chung successfully hatched 24 that all survived!
     HATCHING!  This is the only known photo of larvae hatching and still attached to the female!  Eggs are relatively large and about 1mm (about 1/16") in diameter. Larvae measure about 2.5mm (about 1/8")/
     ZOEA LARVAE.  When born, larvae appendages are still not developed and they bob around in a tail up - head down position with the legs swirling furiously to allow them to move about. This stage lasts about two weeks. Opae-ula are not cannibalistic and adults generally ignore them. However, in attractive dense population tanks, it is advisable to suck them out and keep them in a small nursery unit so they do not get rammed by adults actively swimming laps.
    POST-LARVAE!  They are born with a huge yolk sack that will sustain the larvae for about 45 days and takes them through until juvenile stage. This accounts for the very high survival rate. After two weeks, they begin to swim horizontally. Their appendages continue to develop and they become increasingly more skilled swimmers. They begin to settle down and hide in the rocks and learn to eat by scraping algae. But they are sometimes seen on the surface filter-feeding.
    JUVENILES!  This seven week old juvenile measures about 1/4" long and almost half grown.  Except for size and being a bit thin, it's already resembling an adult.  As it grows and adds more heft, the antennae lengthen to become longer than the length of both body and tail.  Juveniles are usually seen on the tank floor and will join adults in lap swimming as they get older.  In anchialine ponds, juveniles are often found in the grasses or in macro-algae.
            Bryan and David Chung are outstanding members of the Micro-Lobster Team that have documented in photographs and notes the larval development of opae-ula and their results are being shared with the opae-ula researchers.  David Chung is also adding to the great body of his photo.  Go to David Chung's Page
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Fuku-Bonsai 2003, 2004, 2005          You are cordially invited to visit the home of the Micro-Lobsters at
     17-856 Olaa Road (PO Box 6000), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
     Phone (808) 982-9880;  FAX (808) 982-9883