Pistol Shrimp Facts
- First of all, the term Pistol Shrimp applies to any of the amazing members of the Alpheidae family of shrimp. Further, this family currently contains an astounding 1,119 recognized species.
- In addition, all members of this family remain characterized by possessing asymmetrical claws. The larger claw in all of these species is capable of generating a loud snapping sound.
- Its common name derives from a unique ability it has. Despite its diminutive stature, the animal remains one of the loudest creatures on earth. Its snapping can reach a volume of as much as 218 decibels.
- Finally, it has few natural predators, for understandable reasons. However, like many other species, it faces potential threats to its existence. The leading danger it faces consists of climate change.
Pistol Shrimp Physical Description
Firstly, the awesome Pistol Shrimp typically attains an average length of only about 2 in (5 cm). However, the greatly oversized snapping claw may be as long as half the body length of the shrimp.
Also, the design of the larger claw remains unique among shrimp. That’s because it possesses a pistol-like component which is made of two parts. A special joint allows the hammer part to retract to a right angle position. When released, it creates the characteristic snapping noise.
Furthermore, this larger claw may appear on either arm. While it usually develops on one arm only, if lost, it will regrow on the other arm. Meanwhile, the arm that originally held the larger claw will grow a new, smaller claw.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Malacostraca
- Order: Decapoda
- Family: Alpheidae
Pistol Shrimp Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Given the number of different species of Pistol Shrimp, its distribution remains virtually worldwide. Most of the various species, but not all, inhabit either tropical or temperate waters.
Further, those varieties that live in the warmer climates most commonly make their homes in regions of coral reef. However, one remarkable species actually lives only in freshwater caves.
Some species have also developed a symbiotic relationship with the goby fish. The two will even share the same protective burrow. The shrimp maintains the burrow. Having better eyesight, the goby fish watches for danger when the pair goes outside the burrow.
Further, the method of sound generation is astonishing. The powerful claw opens so quickly and shuts with such velocity which creates a cavitation bubble. This bubble expands outward rapidly. The outward pressure is what generates the shock wave.
The Pistol Shrimp uses this to hunt for prey. The shock wave is brief, lasting only one millisecond. However, it is powerful enough to kill small fish, or even shatter glass. Groups of these shrimp in a feeding frenzy will actually interfere with the sonar of submarines.