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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Animal of the Week: The Pistol Shrimp

This trimester’s first Animal of the Week is the feisty pistol shrimp, which grows to an average of just four centimetres long. However, it compensates for its lack of stature with its well-honed hunting mechanism: its distinctly disproportionate claw. When this claw snaps shut, it releases a cavitation bubble with a loud popping noise—and that’s ‘loud’, as in, approaching 218 decibels, rivalling the calls of much larger marine animals in terms of sheer volume. What’s more, when this bubble collapses, it reaches temperatures of over 4700 °C. The heat of this bubble, coupled with the sound and pressure of its release, enables it to kill small fish, and stun larger ones: captive pistol shrimps have used it to shatter small glass jars. Truly, the pistol shrimp is bigger than his body gives him credit for (Mayer, 2003).

Email suggestions for an upcoming Animal of the Week to elle@salient.org.nz.

[ssba]

About the Author ()

Elle started out at Salient reviewing music. In 2010, she wrote features and Animal of The Week, which an informal poll revealed to be 40% of Victoria students' favourite part of the magazine. Alongside Uther Dean, she was co-editor for 2011. In 2012, she is chief features writer.

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