The mantis shrimp isn't the largest animal in the ocean, but it packs a wallop like creatures many times its size. This is the reason that it doesn't have the need to fear much as it wanders over the ocean bottom hunting for food. These shrimp are quipped with appendages that can strike so fast that the force and speed of their limbs causes water to vaporize around them. The collapsing air bubbles send a shock wave powerful enough to stun their prey, even if they miss with their strike. There are 450 species of mantis shrimp. They are divided into two groups; smashers and slashers or spearers. The spearers have sharp appendages that impale and kill their prey. Smashers have club-like appendages that resemble small, hard boxing gloves. They are able to stun or pulverize their prey. They can smash mollusk shells into tiny pieces, allowing them to get at even the most protected creatures inside. These actions are so fast that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. A mantis shrimp requires only 800 microseconds to strike, giving them the theoretical ability to strike 500 times in the blink of a human eye. This action occurs at a speed of more than 110km/h and the movement causes the water to vaporize around the shrimp's claws. The collapse of the vapour bubbles creates a shock wave that can immobilize prey. In this way, the shrimp strike twice with one blow. For such a tiny creature, it has little reason to fear going out into the open to hunt. Even larger creatures are wary of this small animal with the mighty wallop. Scuba divers have nicknamed this animal the "thumb splitter" because their claws can severely injure or slash a finger or hand. They are beautiful and it would be tempting to pick one up, but the consequences of doing so would be disastrous and immediate. Most animals in the ocean have the ability to defend themselves. Nature has a way of providing each creature with the means to discourage attacks. This shrimp is one more example of the wisdom behind the scuba diver's motto to touch nothing as they explore this mysterious and beautiful world.
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