The Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) packs a heck of a punch. Equipped with a smashing claw – used for breaking shells to eat their inhabitants – these shrimp are more than capable of shattering the macro port of an underwater camera if they are so inclined. I think that with that lightening fast claw they could probably break bones in a human hand quite easily too.
So photographing these big shrimp (max about 7 inches in length) is not without its peril.
This particular shrimp was photographed in Ambon Harbour in Indonesia. Mantis Shrimp are not all that rare (but you’ve got to really look for them, as they tend to hole up in the reef, and will often completely disappear on approach), but seeing one with its clutch of eggs like this is pretty unusual. It was our bud Kiddoc who found this thing and showed it to me. [Edited to give the correct critter credit – so Kiddoc showed the thing to me, but he has confessed that it was his eagle-eyed better half Amy who first spotted it]. This shrimp had the eggs balled up underneath it, and somehow could lift the mass up with it when it popped its head up out of its lair, and then very quickly would take the ball down the hatch with it when I approached too close for its comfort. It took some hanging out for a while for the shrimp to get used to my presence, so I could finally get the shot.
The Mantis Shrimp below was photographed on our recent trip to Komodo, Indonesia. This is more the regular kind of view you get of one of these critters. This guy was out on the reef, scurrying around, when I arrived on scene. He quickly dove into a hole, and again, I had to hang out for a while before he showed his face again.