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Shrimp Stuns Prey with Flash Bang

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  Leave a comment

National Geographic — Among the fascinating creatures of the deep is a finger-size shrimp with an oversize claw—resembling a boxing glove—that it uses to stun its prey by snapping the claw shut. The snapping produces a sharp cracking sound.

When colonies of the shrimp snap their claws, the cacophony is so intense that submarines can take advantage of it to hide from sonar.

A year ago, a team of European scientists revealed that the sound is caused by the bursting of a bubble that forms when a shrimp snaps its claw shut. Now, the team reports that the bubble emits not only sound but a flash of light—indicating the extreme temperature and pressure inside the bubbles before they burst

What this light part does is highlights the extreme conditions achieved at collapse, said Detlef Lohse, a physics professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Lohse and his colleagues Michel Versluis, also from the University of Twente, and Barbara Schmitz of the Technical University of Munich in Germany explain the flashes of light associated with the bubble collapse in the October 4 issue of Nature.

The shrimp, Alpheus heterochaelis, is a dirty-green crustacean that prowls the shallow waters of tropical seas. It has two claws’, one resembling an oversize boxing glove, which it uses to stun prey, such as small crabs, by snapping the oversize claw shut.

Lohse and his colleagues reported in the September 22, 2000, issue of Science that the stunning snap comes not from the clap of the claws coming together but from a bubble generated by the claws’ rapid closing motion.

When the claw snaps shut, a jet of water shoots out from a socket in the claw at speeds of up to 62 miles (100 kilometers) an hour, generating a low-pressure bubble in its wake. As the pressure stabilizes, the bubble collapses with a loud bang.

The whole process, which was recorded with the use of high-speed cameras and sound equipment, occurs within 300 microseconds.

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.


Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

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