Shrimp which is 'louder than a gunshot' found in British waters

A shrimp which can emit a sound louder than a gunshot has been found in British waters.
By Charlotte Bailey
Last Updated: 9:29AM GMT 14 Nov 2008

The one-inch long 'pistol shrimp' snaps its enlarged claw shut at such a speed that it produces a sound wave of up to 218 decibels - twice as loud as a barking dog.

The ear-splitting sound shocks its prey before the shrimp uses its powerful claws to rip through crustacean and shellfish skeletons.

The shrimps, which are native to the sub-tropical seas of the Mediterranean, have only been recorded in UK waters a handful of times.

They are incredibly rare in British waters because the temperature is usually too cold.

However, two of the crustaceans have been picked up by crab fisherman Tim Bailey two miles off Pendennis Point in Falmouth, Cornwall, and experts believe they are part of a thriving colony.

They were brought to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall, where they are now being looked after in separate cages so they do not stun each other.

Curator Matt Slater said: "Only a handful of this type of shrimp has ever been recorded in UK waters although their numbers do appear to be on the rise because of rising sea temperatures.

"The fisherman brought in a bucket and I started to hear this cracking noise as if someone was popping bubble wrap.

"It wasn't until we unloaded the bucket that I realised the sound was coming from the shrimps snapping their claws together."

Douglas Herdson, information officer at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, said that the creatures can be so loud that they can be heard by sailors.

"I have heard of yachtsmen being moored in a bay and not being able to sleep because of the noise these shrimps make."

He added that the species is likely to be seen in UK waters more and more as sea temperatures rise.