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Packing Quite the Punch

Photo by guest Ellen P.C. from Herndon, VA


What a fun — and informative! — note from a member of one of our favorite families:

Hi!  I’m sending you this picture of something a bit different that I found at Ocean’s Reach in 2019 when my husband and I were staying with my family (sister is an Ocean’s Reach owner from Massachusetts).
Growing up eating lobsters and shrimp, I assumed I knew how to pick up these little creatures.  I wasn’t hurt, but I’m certainly never going to touch one of these little guys again!
Back in the condo, I did some research to find out what I had discovered, and it was a mantis shrimp.
According to my research, there are many different kinds of mantis shrimp but they are rare in the Gulf.  Most are in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  They come in many colors and like subtropical and tropical water.
This is a mantis shrimp about 6 or 7 inches long which I found in the water out in front of OR.  I picked it up to examine it as it reminded me of a lobster tail.  I would encourage anyone seeing one of these, however, to NOT to pick it up.  Here’s why:
They are vicious predators that pack quite a punch. They smash or spear their prety with a club or spearlike appendage. These strikes reach speeds as much aas 51 mph, equivalent to a bullet fired from a gun.  In addition, the prey has to contend with the bubble produced by the speed of the claw. This movement produced vapor-filled bubbles called cavitation bubbles. The popping of these bubbles on impact causes a second shock wave. The water around them can boil and light up from the heat. Their strike can break aquarium glass and split a human thumb, hence the nickname “thumb-splitters.”

Ellen P.C. from Herndon, VA

Thanks, Ellen, for the fascinating info!  More details on these amazing creatures can be found here.

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