Pistol Shrimp

Snap! The sound of death

Sonic shock wave in the sea

Light born of bubbles

It’s amazing that an animal as small as a pistol shrimp can, with only its claw, wreak tremendous devistation.  The “pistol” claw, which can be almost as large as the body, has a locking mechanism that allows large muscles to build up tension, thus increasing the power of the claw when it finally snaps shut. The result is a pulse of force powerful enough to create a small cavitation bubble, a small vacuole of empty space in the water, which exists momentarily. Upon collapsing, the bubble can release enough energy to stun or kill prey up to the size of small fish. When this energy is released light is emitted through the effects of sonoluminescence that, though invisible to the naked eye, approaches the spectrum of light from the sun. This efficient hunting method multiplied over the entire population of pistol shrimp makes this group of arthropods contenders as the loudest animals in the ocean.


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