Wild Fact #914 – POP Goes the Weas…err… Shrimp – Pistol Shrimp

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and are counting down the days until Christmas!  I still can’t believe that this Friday is actually Christmas!  Where does the time go? Well, let’s get onto the reason we are all here.  Last week we looked at amazing animal defense mechanisms. There is no theme this week but today’s post is the exact opposite of last weeks. The pistol shrimp has a very unique adaptation that allows it to capture its prey.

First of all, let me tell you that this is not your typical shrimp and you would not want to try and eat this little guy.  If you look at the picture above you may have noticed that one of the claws is larger than the other.  It is also shaped differently.  I will let you in on a secret, the pistol shrimp uses this special claw to capture its prey.  I know that using claws to catch food doesn’t sound unique but you didn’t let me finish.  Would you believe me if I told you that the shrimp is able to use this claw to become one of the loudest animals of the sea? That’s right this tiny little shrimp can make a sound comparable to that of the sperm and beluga whale.   Even more impressive is the fact that pistol shrimp can create enough heat from this claw that it is acutally comparable to the sun’s temperature.  So how do they do this?

It all has to do with this specialized claw! When the pistol shrimp snaps this claw shut it will generate a cavitation bubble which is basically a shockwave. This bubble will momentarily reach temperatures of 4700 degrees Celsius as well as create a very loud “popping” sound!  As you may have assumed this cavitation bubble creates such intense pressure that it is able to stun and even kill fish and other prey items in the vicinity of the pistol shrimp. Don’t worry, if you happen to be in the area of the pistol shrimp, it will only feel like getting hit with an elastic band.

For your viewing pleasure, I have included a video of the pistol shrimp in the post below. Enjoy!

2 Responses

  1. Bev Lawrence 8 years ago
    • Nathan Nathan 8 years ago

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