First records of dendrobranchiate prawns (Decapoda: Dendrobranchiata) from the Andaman Sea, India

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First records of dendrobranchiate prawns (Decapoda: Dendrobranchiata) from the Andaman Sea, India
(Journal of Natural History- Apr 2020)

The Andaman Sea adjoining the Indian Territory is biologically rich in terms of marine diversity. However, inadequate surveys during the post-independence era have resulted in large lacunae in data on the species composition in these waters. In this paper, we report the first observation of two species of dendrobranchiate prawns, Metapenaeopsis difficilis Crosnier, 1991 and Haliporus taprobanensis Alcock and Anderson, 1899, in the Indian seas, supplemented with notes on their morphological diagnoses, comparison with closely related species and zoogeographical distribution. Crustacean specimens were collected using trawl nets and a naturalists’ dredge on board the Fisheries Oceanography Research Vessel Sagar Sampada in the deeper offshore region between 124 and 850 m depth in the Andaman Sea during the period 2015–2017. Metapenaeopsis difficilis is distinguished by an oval-shaped thelycal plate and a low, unarmed bead-like plate on the thoracic sternum between the third pereiopods. Metapenaeopsis difficilis is previously reported from the Philippines, Indonesia, Coral Sea, New Caledonia, Marquesas Islands, and Wallis and Futuna Islands at depths between 21 and 440 m, thereby indicating its westward range extension. Haliporus taprobanensis is distinguished by a tough integument, presence of a postero-dorsal spine on the fourth pleonal somite, and smooth dorsum of the first four pleonal somites. Haliporus taprobanensis is previously reported from South Africa, Madagascar, off Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines and northern Australia at depths between 300 and 1650 m.