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The Hitchhikers Wrecked Havoc

Saltwater aquarists might not consider shrimps as a deadly being but here’s an article to warn you of their not-so-innocent nature. On the other hand a sea food lover too may not like this a lot but here comes fact.
The commonly known as the smashing species of the mantis shrimp can attack by the edge of their calcified claw with immense force which in some adverse conditions can crush the hardest surfaces, like walls or even break off your finger if you mess with them just at wrong times.

Recently a pack of these smashers of the species of mantis shrimps created a lot of havoc at a family exhibit of splash zone species at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. It was noted that some members of the cleaning crew went missing in the aquarium like some hermit crabs, snails and barnacles. Alert was set on when they went missing on a bunch altogether and at the disappearance of two small fire fish.

David Snipe, an aquarist at the Monterey aquarium says that they noted two of them and then suddenly there was only one swimming around. Usually they would know when the attack begins since there is a sound when it tries snapping a snail or hermit crab. But this time it was tricky.

Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology, who also happens to be a mantis shrimp specialist at the University of California at Berkeley, has recognized these darned shrimps as a small species of a smashing stomatopod. There are other stomatopods, otherwise known as spearers, who attack by using their spiky, dreadful claws like razor blades. There are studies suggesting that these thumb-splitters can slash through a person’s finger in milliseconds. Roy further explained that though the claws of these smashers might appear dull but you are not to take them for granted since they are completely deadly especially when the victim is shelled.

There has been an instance when a surgeon in South Africa encountered a 10-inch long smasher. He was attracted to the strange length of the creature so he tried grabbing it but the result was his wounded finger that had to be later amputated.

Coming back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Snipe stated that the single mantis shrimp in the Splash Zone exhibit probably came as a hitchhiker last year hiding in the rocks or corals that the museum imported from Florida and Figi.
There have been cases when these species were found to be aggressive in the wild but in the controlled environment of an aquarium, they were never till this case, found to be so noxious. When a new rock arrives at the Monterey, they are well scrubbed to get rid of any harmful and unwelcomed critters but a mantis is so easy to be missed out for their nature of dwelling deep inside. They had pulled out a few of the mantis earlier but somehow these two escaped from their meticulous eyes only to create these havocs.

Raymond Bauer, a marine biologist at the University of Louisiana, explains that the intricate behavior and nature of the mantis shrimp are proof that the crustacean has a kind of high level of brain power. For instance, when indulged in a fight, shrimps flip over and curl up its plated, barbed tail and then it stabs at its opponent just about the edge of its tail as a fencer might use a shield.

Their aggressive talent or skills of fight along with their ability to swim and dash very swiftly under and above water makes it nearly unfeasible to catch. To catch hold of them even in a small aquarium would be a task of difficulty so to catch it in an aquarium as Monterey could be next to impossible.

They did not work too hard to catch it since the aquarium was not a touch zone for visitors but the problem it was creating was not just havoc but also a lot of work for those who had to clean up after the bits and pieces of its hunt down. If caught, they’d be kept in the same aquarium where some others of its kind, caught earlier, are awaiting.