Living in the warm, shallow waters of tropical and subtropical climates across the world lurks an aquatic species called the mantis shrimp (stomatopod), a deadly ocean predator that can strike its prey at an estimated 50 mph with the force of a .22 caliber weapon. The speed and force with which a mantis shrimp can strike has the ability to produce shockwaves and can boil the water around it.
The mantis shrimp, a crustacean that is more closely related to lobsters than to actual shrimp, can be found in most major oceans and across all continents except Antarctica. In the United States, it can be found in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Hawaii, with four different species thriving off the coast of Southern California.
A mantis shrimp uses its powerful "arms" to crack open a clam shell with a few punches.
The tiny creatures, which typically range in size from a few inches to up to a foot, made headlines earlier this year when two terrorized the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Suspected of accidentally arriving in the aquarium on a set of rocks, the mantis shrimp took quickly to smashing its fellow tankmates- snails, hermit crabs and barnacles.
More recently, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted pictures of a giant specimen captured by fisherman Steve Bargeron in Fort Pierce. The monster mantis measured 18 inches long.
Many aquariums do not try to house mantis shrimp, as they have been known to shatter glass with their ferocious strikes. They often obliterate other creatures that are placed in tanks with them and can injure humans by gashing skin or breaking bones.
The best known species of the animal is the peacock mantis shrimp, which has a dazzlingly vibrant coloring to its exoskeleton. It thrives across parts of the Indian and Pacific oceans, essentially stretching from Japan west to the eastern coast of Africa.
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