One-handed grab

Check out this spectacular stomatopod photo by Roy Caldwell.

It is freeze frame of Lysiosquillina sulcata mid-strike, capturing a damselfish. I can barely fathom how hard this shot was to get. The strike only provides about a 50 to 80 millisecond (ms) window in which to trigger the flash. With that in mind, take this visual reaction time test. A normal human’s reaction time is somewhere between 150 and 300 ms. That means that Dr. Caldwell needs to anticipate the strike in order to have any chance of getting the shot. Further compound that with the fact that the mantis shrimp will only eat a fish once every few days. Luckily, Dr. Caldwell is probably better suited for thinking like a mantis shrimp than anyone else on the planet, and he has succeeded in capturing a spearer in action.

You may remember a previous photo I posted of Lysiosquillina maculata catching a fish in the wild, by Laurent Ballesta. Though it is also a spectacular shot, that photo was probably not taken during an initial strike, but rather slightly afterwards, as the stomatopod is struggling to reel in the large fish.

To learn more about the incredibly fast and powerful strike of the mantis shrimp, read my previous post, here.

One Comment

  1. Daniel Zurek November 5, 2010 1:47 am

    wow, that is a fantastic shot. I wonder how may tries it took him to get it!

    http://www.excusememrscientist.blogspot.com