"Basically," she continued, "the fingers of the claw have two opposing smooth disks with a thin layer of water in between the disks. When the disks separate due to increased pressure, the claw forcibly opens and makes the loud popping sound. This concussion, produced by the claws separating, stuns small animals and is a manner in which to capture prey. The sound is also a defense mechanism to ward off larger predators."
Von Harten found her information in Seashore Animals of Southeast: A Guide to Common Shallow-Water Invertebrates of the Southeastern Atlantic Coast by Edward E. Ruppert and Richard S. Fox. She highly recommends this book ("one of the best for our region of the coast") to local residents. It is available at the Beaufort County Library, under call number 592.0975 (ask for the circulating and non-circulating copies at the Beaufort and Hilton Head Island branches, the circulating copy at our St. Helena Island branch, and the non-circulating copy at our Bluffton branch).
Snapping Shrimp are also known as "pistol shrimp." According
to the book, their sound "can be heard clearly across a large
room" in aquariums and "reportedly can break glass."
The shrimp's larger claw has a notch "in both the upper and
lower margins at the base of the fingers."
The Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida website, (www.sms.si.edu/IRLFieldGuide/Alpheu_hetero.htm) said these living noisemakers range from the southern Chesapeake Bay to Florida, extending further south to the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and Brazil.
color of the Bigclaw Snapping Shrimp is translucent green, and
its walking legs are pale red. Often there are bright red or orange
tones on the tips of the claws, and a blue or purple edge along
the uropods (fantail) and body. Click here
of the shrimp.
to learn more about the offerings of the South Carolina
Sea Grant Extension Program (a joint outreach program of the Clemson
University Extension Service and the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium),
or call (843) 470-3655 (extension 112) in Beaufort. You may also
e-mail Amber Von Harten, Fisheries Extension Specialist at