• Decapods;
  • marine caves;
  • Mediterranean Sea;
  • Palaemon;
  • Salento Peninsula;
  • visual census


The common shrimps of the genus Palaemon are often reported as living in Mediterranean submarine caves. The present study quantifies the distribution pattern of a Palaemon spp. populations throughout 1 year of observations in a shallow submarine cave in South-eastern Italy, Ionian Sea. The cave was subdivided into six sectors from the entrance towards the inner portion of the ‘blind cave’ and 16 dives (four per season, during both day and night) were performed with SCUBA equipment. The population was estimated in situ using visual census. Four different species of Palaemon were identified. This study has shown that Palaemon spp. assemblages live throughout the year in submarine caves. Moreover, the results suggest submarine caves play an important role in the biology of Palaemon spp. populations, by providing refuge, juvenile recruitment and food resources.