Guess What? Sand Hoppers Hop!

Seaweed on beach

The beach is more than just a playground. For a special group of plants and animals it's home.

sand hoppers beneath seaweed

Best known of these are the sand-hoppers. Related to crustaceans they are in fact amphipods. They hide during the day under seaweed and driftwood on the beach.

sand hopper

As its common name suggests it leaps by first flexing its body than quickly straightening it whilst thrusting its hind limbs against the sand.

sandhopper

If disturbed, their instinct is to burrow into the safe embrace of the sand where they wait until nightfall. They use the same rear legs to clear away the sand as it is pushed aside by the head when burrowing.

sandhopper

Then the sand hoppers turn out in force to clean up the beach, scavenging on kelp and dead animals. They do not survive long in direct sunshine, and provide tasty pickings for gulls, oystercatchers and other common shore birds.

These images are taken from an NHNZ Images movie that is available for purchase in your production. Please contact the library team.