These tiny crustaceans are one of the most unusual (and loudest) species in the sea.
Known as pistol shrimps, these animals are a family of shrimps that share a unique quality: They have a massive specialized claw which they can snap to create cavitation bubbles. These bubbles implode and create a shock wave of sorts.
These cavitation bubbles can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h), release a sound reaching 218 decibels, and reach a temperature of 5,000 K (8,500 F), which is almost equal to the surface temperature of the sun.
Essentially, these cavitation bubbles are extremely powerful bullets which can easily stun and kill small fish and shrimp.
The Patek Lab at Duke University explains, “We found that, as a result of the raptorial appendage’s extraordinary speed, the water cavitates (vaporizes) when the limb strikes the prey. Cavitation is a destructive phenomenon; when these vapor bubbles collapse, they essentially cause a small implosion in the water which produces heat, light and sound.”
Yet, despite possessing an arsenal that would make the NRA shudder, the pistol shrimp is not a friendless hermit. Some species of pistol shrimp form symbiotic relationships with goby fishes. In this relationship, the poor-sighted shrimp digs and tends to the burrow, and the sharp-eyed goby keeps a lookout for danger and alerts the shrimp to any threats.
Watch this amazing process in action in the video below:
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