Cave Shrimp

Cave Shrimp

Palaemonias alabamae

About This Animal

SIZE: Just over 1 inch

RANGE: The Alabama, Tuscumbia and Kentucky Cave Shrimps are restricted to a very small number of caves in Alabama and Kentucky

HABITAT: Pools in caves with little to no flow

DIET: Bacteria, algae, and fungus that live on sediments in the bottom of cave pools

LIFESPAN: 15 years


About this animal: Cave Shrimp have no eyes or pigment and are nearly transparent. Cave shrimp are very sensitive to pollutants, so their presence indicates that the overall health of the groundwater in a cave ecosystem as well as safe drinking water for people.

Threats: Small range, small population, fragmented population, nonpoint source pollution, sedimentation and overall lack of data about the species.

Our Impact: Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) scientists snorkel in cave pools to monitor cave shrimp and have discovered one new population of Alabama Cave Shrimp and all three populations of Tuscumbia Cave Shrimp. They are also working with researchers at Iowa State University on the genetics of U.S. cave shrimp.  Understanding genetics is important because it helps nonprofits and policy makers better understand which areas to protect.

Conservation Status: Alabama and Kentucky Cave Shrimp are federally endangered. The Tuscumbia Cave Shrimp has no official protection.