One of the most colorful and
interesting of all the "characters" of the reef
is the mantis shrimp. Its diet consist of crustaceans,
worms, fish and even cowries, smashing their shells open
with its powerful front claws. They are curious animals,
and will emerge slightly from their hiding place under
rocks or coral heads to peer at divers. They scurry
quickly about the reef in search of prey, using their
independently moving compound eyes on long stalks to get
a panoramic view of their surroundings. Divers are wise
not to place a finger too close to these attractive
creatures, since one smash from the pointy claws could
easily penetrate a glove or flesh down to the bone.
Mantis shrimps take a good deal of patience and delicacy
to photograph close-up, and one has to be careful to keep
the lens at the right distance to avoid damage as the shrimp strikes back in self-defense.