Mantis shrimp (118k]

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.

Identification: Odontodactylus scyallarus

Mantis shrimp profile [109k]
mantis shrimp profile view

Mantis shrimp profile view [92k]
one more mantis profile view

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