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Diving with Smashing Mantis Shrimp

Koh Lanta Marine Life | Odontodactylidae
Spiny LobstersSpearing Mantis Shrimp

Smashing mantis shrimp are neither shrimp, nor mantis, they are a separate group of 450 species called stomapods. They are present at all our coral reefs, but not always easy to spot during Koh Lanta dive trips.

Sporting a thick shell that covers the back of the head and the first four segments of the main body, they are among the most efficient crustacean predators. Typically growing to around 10 - 15 cm in length, this group of animals have some of the most complex eyes in the world, including the ability to see polarised light.

Smashing mantis shrimp have two specialised calcified "smashing clubs" at the front of the body that are used to smash crab and clam shells at over 50mph in just a fraction of a second, and are known to crack and punch holes in aquarium glass.

Smashing Mantis Shrimp are solitary and territorial creatures, making burrows in hard seabed or coral cavities which are used as sites for mating and for keeping their eggs safe.

1 species found on this page.

Peacock Mantis Shrimp

(Odontodactylus scyllarus)

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp has an olive-tan to dark green body (the males are dark green). The antennae are yellow-orange to green. The eye stalks are pale bluish and the eyes are a greyish colour. The front side of the carapace (shell) is whitish with dark blotches. Further behind the head and body segments, the carapace is mottled tan to greenish to grey, with lighter blotches, spots and stripes.

Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus)

Odontodactylus scyllarus @ Koh Haa

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp grows to 18 cm and has the most sophisticated vision and fastest strike of any predator on earth. The eyes work both together and independently to target prey and can detect more colours than any creature on earth, including polarised light.

Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus)

Peacock Mantis Shrimp smashing a shell @ Koh Haa

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp is a Smashing Mantis, armed with two spring loaded hammer claws. The strike is up to 23 m per second (50 times faster than the blink of a human eye). When striking prey, for a moment, the surrounding water reaches the temperature of the surface of the sun (yes, really!).

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp builds its burrow in rocky and coral nooks and crannies and often hunts away from the burrow.

Koh Lanta Diving with Smashing Mantis Shrimp

If you'd love a chance to spot Smashing Mantis Shrimp on one of our daily Koh Lanta diving trips then send us an email to info@diveandrelax.com.

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