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If you recall our article a few weeks ago on Superheroes of the sea, you may recall a shrimp with a claw that had pistol-like feature made of two parts. A joint allows the "hammer" part to move backward and when released, it snaps into the other part of the claw, emitting an enormously powerful wave of bubbles capable of stunning larger fish and even breaking small glass jars. We were recently lucky enough to find some of these beauties on a snorkel in Salt Rock and made another interesting discovery about the Coral  Snapping Shrimp, Alpheus lottini, they speak "Crab" 

These Coral Snapping Shrimp have an interesting relationship with many species of Coral Crabs, with whom they tend to share a home in a patch of Pocillopora corals (As seen in the photo above, the shrimp can be seen in the background) 

Both crabs and shrimps have been observed to defend the coral against intruders, including other shrimp and crabs. But in order for the shrimp to make it into the stronger Coral Crab's home, the shrimp has to first do a complicated dance or "appeasement pattern" before the shrimp is accepted into the coral by the crab. 

These patterns however seem to be borrowed from the crab's own appeasement repertoire and are never performed between shrimps among themselves. In other words, the shrimp, as the weaker of the two, has to "learn" how to inhibit the stronger crab's aggression by using the crab's own language. Pretty nifty party trick and it clearly seems to work.

Besides the interesting dynamic between these two creatures, these Coral Snapping Shrimp are seriously pretty critters. 

alpheus-lottini

coral-snapping-shrimp

coral-shrimp

 

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