Heather Spence, Marine Biologist
Orchestrating Coastal Marine Ecology Investigation and Outreach

Heather Spence, Marine Biologist

Snapping Shrimp

Did you know that perhaps the loudest sound in shallow waters is made by animals the size of your pinky finger?

Snapping shrimp have claws (which makes them look a bit like baby lobsters), but one claw is much bigger than the other. They shut or ’snap’ their big claw so quickly that it creates a vacuum bubble – the bubble bursts and produces a loud popping sound! (described by Versluis et al, 2000 in journal Science)

Next time you’re walking on a beach or a pier listen for their distinctive crackling sound!

Snapping shrimp are fascinating organisms for study, including their behavior (some species are eusocial!), morphology and snap acoustics, development, and the effect of their sounds on other organisms (e.g. attracting juvenile fish and lobsters to reefs).

Links to related topics in this site:

Photos of Snapping shrimp in Puerto Morelos

Snapping Shrimp Publication (Spence and Knowlton, 2008)

Publication on coastal bioacoustics in Soundscape (Spence, 2008)

Blog post on Coral Reef Acoustics

Cannery Row Snapping Shrimp Reference

Blog posts related to sound, noise and music


Photo credit: Hitamar Munoz

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