Monday, April 27, 2009

Pistol Shrimp

Pistol Shrimps are tiny creatures with a deadly weapon. They are capable of shooting supersonic blasts from their fingertips with enough force to instantly stun or kill their prey.

You may notice that one claw of a pistol shrimp is much larger than the other, and very strangely shaped. This claw serves as both its lethal weapon, and its voice. This claw can be forcefully snapped shut, shooting a jet of water out at such a high speed that it actually vaporizes the water. This causes a small air bubble to form. The bubble collapses with enough force to send concussive shockwaves capable of stunning and incapacitating prey.

A pistol shrimp will lie in wait under a rock or in a burrow until food comes along. When it is in range, the shrimp will forcefully snap its oversize claw shut, shooting out sonic waves that incapacitate its prey. The helpless victim is dragged unconscious into the burrow and eaten by the pistol shrimp.

Another unusual thing about pistol shrimps is that they often allow a fish to live with them. Certain kinds of goby fish often share burrows with pistol shrimp. The fish serves as a guard dog, protecting the shrimp from bigger predators. In return, the pistol shrimp works hard to keep the burrow clean and excavate their home.

The loud blast created by a pistol shrimp's claw can be heard from great distances. Because of this, they also use their claw for communicating with other pistol shrimps. When you listen underwater you may hear a lot of popping sounds. Some of them may be made by pistol shrimps firing off their sound waves to communicate with each other.


Jerr Dunlap said...

Thanks - Stunningly beautiful pictures and I enjoy your commentary - All sorts of interesting stuff! I'm looking forward to following your blog.
- Jerr

Pamela said...

Just curious, are most of the photos taken by you?
If so, is it a professional camera taht you are using?

NovaBlogger said...

Thanks, Jerr. I appreciate the feedback and compliments. Due to finances this year I haven't been able to devote much time to blogging on here (I wish the sponsor links on the sidebar generated more than a few cents when people visit them). Now that things are calming down a bit and I'm seeing that quite a few people really enjoy this blog, I think I'll try to get back into it more.

NovaBlogger said...

I wish I could have taken the pictures on this blog. Since I don't have the time or funding to go diving myself, I surf the web instead to get my material.

Jraw said...

I love your blog, Nova. As a kid I was always fascinated with ocean life, and like you, have discovered a plethora of interesting creatures in my research. What I really like about your blog is that it includes the abstract and specialized animals such as the pistol shrimp and the cone snail. I had never heard of the pistol shrimp, so when I saw the slow-mo video of its attack I was blown away. The wonders of the ocean never cease to amaze me. Thanks for the eye opener!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I stumbled upon your blog since I also wrote a blog post about the pistol shrimp. I must say I really like your other post as well! Maybe since we our blogs are about similar topics we can share eachothers blog.

Anonymous said...

Those are beautiful shrimp!!!

I thought you might be interested in knowing that the U.S. Department of Defense is planning a major military build up on the island of Guam. They plan to dredge up coral reefs to expand a harbor for a nuclear powered aircraft carrier that will only be here up to 63 days a year. This will threaten Guam's hawksbill turtles, green sea turtles, and spinner dolphins, as well as countless other reef fish.

Ahemed Khan said...

nice blog ,Nova

ASHPoD said...

It's the Pokémon Clauncher IRL