The Shrimp with the Fist of Death

Submitted by Webmaster on Sun, 06/11/2005 - 18:31

On the way to the Cairns Airport is dense forest of mangroves. MostEuropeans have never heard of this alien world, not even on TV and tothem it really is the closest thing to an out of this world experience.Should anyone want to explore this forest, there is a kilometre or twoof elevated boardwalks where one can enter the forest and be safe fromthe crocodiles that like there. In the mangroves the loudest sound is a sharp popping noise thatcomes from beneath the ground. Whilst I know what creature makes thesound, the so called pistol shrimp, I had never seen one until today,when I found one walking around the forest floor on a Sunday afternoonstroll. Pistol shrimps are also called snapping shrimps of clickershrimps and on a coral reef they are responsible for most of thesnapping and popping noises that fill your underwater ears. The coralreef snapping shrimps are easily caught by rolling over a piece of deadcoral. Underneath should be a small heavy shelled shrimp whichimmediately tries to find hole to disappear into. None of these shrimpswould be able to hurt a human. Not so with the mangrove equivalent. Atabout 10 times the size of the coral reef version, I was not about totest its fist of death with my finger.The nipper is believed to be used in stunning prey. Powerful musclesopen the nipper until a bulb on the back of the movable finger popsinto tight fitting socket. When closing the nipper, considerable forceis required to pull the bulb back out of the socket and the shrimpbuilds up a lot of pressure. All of a sudden the nipper pulls free ofthe socket and slams shut, making a very loud noise. The boardwalk through the swamp. Mangrove Habitat of the Pistol Shrimp The pistol shrimp fending me off from under a log. Note thebright orange warning flag which is exposed when the fist of death iscocked. A close up look at the fist of death If you do go to the boardwalk without insect repellent, eitherwear long clothes or walk fast as small annoying biting sand flies livethere. The don't spread disease, they just bite

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