Mantis Shrimp are neither a shrimp nor a mantis. These odd looking creatures fall under the Subphylum of crustaceans and are in the same class as shrimp, crabs and lobsters. Mantis Shrimp have their own order called Stomatopods, which contains over 450 different species of these animals.

We can separate Mantis Shrimp into two main categories: spearers and smashers. This is in reference to their front appendages. Spearers have an almost spear like appendage that is used to snag soft bodied prey, while smashers have developed a thickened, hammer like appendage used to break shells and exoskeletons. *The Mantis Shrimp seen above is a smashing Mantis Shrimp.

While these animals seem cute and cuddly these are actually one of the most dangerous animals we have the ability to see around Catalina. The Mantis Shrimp will use its smashing and spearing appendages at great speeds to immobilize or kill its prey. The estimated speed at which these animals use their raptorial claws is the same as the acceleration of a .22 caliber bullet or 10,000 times the force of gravity. This movement is so fast that water vaporizes around the claw meaning the Mantis Shrimp’s prey gets hit twice: once by the claw itself and once by the resulting shock wave.

While these animals do seem quite dangerous, when seen in the ocean, they will most likely stay hidden within their burrows. Mantis Shrimp create “L-shaped” burrows that conceal their entire body. They will then poke their head out to watch out for predators or to find prey. If you ever observe a Mantis Shrimp the chances are they will retreat into their burrow away from any trouble. However if they do not retreat be wary for the Mantis Shrimp really packs a punch!

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