A sand digger shrimp (Bathyporeia elegans)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Bathyporeia elegans is a small sand-hopper with a slender, elongate, laterally-compressed body that grows to up to 0.6 cm length and is devoid of colour. The head bears a pair of large, distinct, red-coloured eyes, two pairs of antennae and four pairs of mouthparts. The first pair of antennae have a large rectangular basal segment, bearing plumose chaetae on the ventral surface, and a number of smaller segments at right angles to each other. The antennae tip bears a flagellum, that is five to six segmented in females but nine to eleven segmented in males, and a smaller, two segmented accessory flagellum. The second pair of antennae are five-segmented, bearing an eight to ten segmented flagellum in females but a filiform flagellum in males. In females, this pair of antennae are twice as long than the first pair but in males, they extend the entire length of the body. The segments of the thorax each bear a pair of broad, densely haired pereopods, which are modified at the first segment into rounded chaetae-bearing coxal plates. The first two pairs of pereopods are modified into simple, sub-chelate gnathopods, whereas the third to seventh pairs bear a small terminal claw. The abdomen is covered by epimeral plates on the dorsal surface, the third of which is smoothly rounded, lacks a toothed corner and has three groups of ventral spines. The fourth plate is notched, bearing paired spines and bristles. The segments of the abdomen each bear a pair of two armed pleopods.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Bathyporeia elegans is found widely distributed on the coasts of Britain and Ireland, and may be locally abundant.

Global distribution

Bathporeia elegans is found from north Norway to northwest Africa.


Bathyporeia elegans inhabits fine and muddy sand from low water to depths of 40 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Colourless, laterally compressed body, up to 0.6 cm in length.
  • First pair of antennae with large, rectangular basal segments, genticulate segmentation and an accessory flagellum.
  • Second pair of antennae in females twice the length of the first but extend the length of the body in males.
  • Eyes large and red.
  • Plate of the third segment of the pleon lacks a toothed corner and bears three groups on the ventral edge.
  • Fourth segment of the pleon is notched dorsally, and bears paired spines and bristles.

Additional information

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Listed by

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  1. Costello, M.J., Bouchet, P., Boxshall, G., Emblow, C. & Vanden Berghe, E., 2004. European Register of Marine Species [On-line]. http://www.marbef.org/data/erms.php,

  2. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  3. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  4. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. Lincoln, R.J., 1979. British Marine Amphipoda: Gammaridea. London: British Museum (Natural History).

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.


  1. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2017. Isle of Man wildlife records from 01/01/2000 to 13/02/2017. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/mopwow accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  2. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/opc6g1 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  3. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  4. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-23

  5. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Myriapods, Isopods, and allied species (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/rvxsqs accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Richards, S. 2008. Bathyporeia elegans A sand digger shrimp. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 23-06-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/39

Last Updated: 03/07/2008