Can an animal create weapons faster than bullets? Can it be so loud that it disrupts artificial sonars? It may sound like science-fiction, but both of those animals exist. They even belong to the same group-shrimp. You may know them as an inconspicuous treat, but they possess one of the fascinating abilities in the animal kingdom.

Pistol shrimp and the plasma gun

The pistol shrimp doesn’t look like a killer animal, but it can be perilous. The secret to its superpower lies in the claws. The larger claw can make up half of the shrimp’s length. It opens when the prey is nearby, allowing some water to get into a small chamber in the smaller claw. Afterward, the claws slap. It happens so fast that it releases bubbles, which speed up to almost a hundred kilometers per hour (over 60mph). They also reach a temperature nearly as high as that on the surface of the Sun! The bubbles stun prey, and the slap creates a bioluminescence glow. However, the glow is way too fast and faint to be registered without equipment.

Meet These Tiny Animals That Can Create Weapons Faster Than Bullets. 1
Image:  Gerald Robert Fischer/

The loudest animals in the world

Besides that, the snap itself is extremely dangerous for the enemies of the shrimp. The Synalpheus pinkfloydi (named after a famous rock band, Pink Floyd) can create snaps reaching 210 decibels. In comparison, the average gunshot is around 140-175 decibels. The sound of claws can be heard in tropical oceans all around the world. During World War II, shrimp disrupted the American sonars, and it was believed that the Russians created a unique device to enable effective communication. It wasn’t until years later scientists discovered that it was actually the snapping shrimp.

The shrimp uses its superpower to defend itself from predators and is probably in competition during the mating season. The family of snapping shrimps contains over a thousand species, divided into 38 genera. They occupy various areas in the ocean, and sometimes they live in symbiosis with goby fish. The fish watches out for danger, whereas the shrimp creates and tends the burrow and defends the fish from predators.

Meet These Tiny Animals That Can Create Weapons Faster Than Bullets. 2
Goby fish (Image: divedog/

The diversity of shrimp

Despite being real-life superheroes, many species of shrimp have their own habits and abilities. Over 2,000 species in the group are characterized by an elongated body, an adaptation for swimming and walking on the seabed. Most species live in the sea. However, a quarter occupies freshwater habitats. They can live up to 5,000 meters below the water surface, and two species can even spend a part of their life on land! All in all, shrimp are a wonderfully diverse group. From the killer abilities of the pistol shrimp to the beautiful cleaner shrimp, they are a crucial part of many of Earth’s ecosystems.

Food for the world

Shrimp is one of the most significant sea animals for humans. They contain loads of protein and rare antioxidants, vitamin B12, and low fat and carbohydrates. They are America’s favorite seafood – an average American consumes 2 kg per year, while over 11 tonnes of shrimp are produced in the US each year. Some people also keep shrimp in their home aquariums; the most popular species are the cleaner shrimp and the fire shrimp. Pistol shrimp can also be kept in an aquarium; however, they can destroy the aquarium without proper maintenance.

Shrimp are one of the most significant seafood in the world.
Shrimp is significant seafood in the world.

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