Haswells caprellid

Haswells Caprellid. Illustration: Takeuchi & Lowry 2007

Scientific name

Metaprotella haswelliana

Status in NSW

Presumed extinct.


While Haswell’s Caprellid resembles a praying mantis from its large distinctive eyes and two antennae; it is a very small marine amphipod.


This is a very small marine amphipod, only a few milimeters long.


Haswells Caprellid was first described from a specimen discovered in 1882 in Port Jackson. The species has also been recorded at Port Phillip Victoria and Emu Point Western Australia. Despite extensive targeted research, the species has not been reported in over 100 years in NSW and over 35 years in Victoria.


Haswell’s Caprellid attach themselves to algae and seaweed, where they prey on small organisms moving past in the water. Very little is known about their habitat requirements.

Why did Haswell’s Caprellid become extinct?

  • Because the species has not been recorded in New South Wales in over 100 years, it is possible that changes in environmental conditions during the last century have contributed to its extinction.
  • Observations indicate that caprellids are good indicators of environmental stress as they are susceptible to a range of pollutants.
  • Caprellid amphipods have been known to be susceptible to tributyltin and copper which are used in boat antifouling paints.
  • There is no direct evidence that these pollutants caused the extinction of Haswell’s Caprellid however there is conclusive information showing that these threats exist in former habitats of Haswell’s Caprellid, and their susceptibility to these types of pollutants.

More information