15 November 2008

Pistol packing shrimps move with warming waters

Snapping shrimps usually found in the Mediterranean have been found off the coast of the UK, drawn by warmer waters.
Experts believe the specimens are part of a thriving colony.

Rare pistol shrimp caught by fishermen off Cornwall coast
Richard Savill, The Telegraph 14 Nov 08;

Shrimps usually found in the Mediterranean have been found off the coast of Cornwall, drawn by the warmer UK waters.

The two pistol shrimps, named after the loud cracking noise they produce to stun their prey, were caught by a crab fisherman.

The bright one inch long orange shrimps are capable of using their claws to produce cracking sounds of up to 218 decibels.

They were caught by Tim Bailey, two miles south of Pendennis Point in Falmouth Bay, and it is believed they could be part of a colony.

The shrimps have been taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay, Cornwall, where staff have had to put them in isolation tanks to prevent them stunning each other.

Matt Slater, the curator, said: "Only a handful of this type of shrimp has ever been recorded in UK waters although their numbers do appear to be on the rise because of rising sea temperatures.

"The fisherman brought in a bucket and I started to hear this cracking noise as if someone was popping bubble wrap.

"It wasn't until we unloaded the bucket that I realised the sound was coming from the shrimps snapping their claws together."

Ben Marshall, an aquarist at the aquarium, said: "They are amongst the loudest marine animal.

"They simply snap their claw to make the loud noise. That click stuns the victim for enough time for them to be able to kill it,"

Pistol shrimp facts:

• Competes with much larger animals, like the sperm whale and beluga whale, for the title of 'loudest animal in the sea'.

• Equivalent noise to humans would be that of Concorde flying three feet over their heads whilst breaking the sound barrier.

• Digs burrows and is common inhabitant of coral reefs, submerged grass flats, and oyster reefs.

• They are monogamous

• They live in sponges and show high degrees of inbreeding.


Shrimp which is 'louder than a gunshot' found in British waters
A shrimp which can emit a sound louder than a gunshot has been found in British waters.

Charlotte Bailey, The Telegraph 14 Nov 08;

The one-inch long 'pistol shrimp' snaps its enlarged claw shut at such a speed that it produces a sound wave of up to 218 decibels.

The ear-splitting sound shocks its prey before the shrimp uses its powerful claws to rip through crustacean and shellfish skeletons.

The shrimps, which are native to the sub-tropical seas of the Mediterranean, have only been recorded in UK waters a handful of times.

They are incredibly rare in British waters because the temperature is usually too cold.

However, two of the crustaceans have been picked up by crab fisherman Tim Bailey two miles off Pendennis Point in Falmouth, Cornwall, and experts believe they are part of a thriving colony.

They were brought to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall, where they are now being looked after in separate cages so they do not stun each other.

Curator Matt Slater said: "Only a handful of this type of shrimp has ever been recorded in UK waters although their numbers do appear to be on the rise because of rising sea temperatures.

"The fisherman brought in a bucket and I started to hear this cracking noise as if someone was popping bubble wrap.

"It wasn't until we unloaded the bucket that I realised the sound was coming from the shrimps snapping their claws together."

Douglas Herdson, information officer at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, said that the creatures can be so loud that they can be heard by sailors.

"I have heard of yachtsmen being moored in a bay and not being able to sleep because of the noise these shrimps make."

He added that the species is likely to be seen in UK waters more and more as sea temperatures rise.

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