Snapping Shrimp

Snapping Shrimp

The chart shows the sounds made by the Snapping Shrimp. To hear it for yourself, click on the link above the graphs.

Snapping Shrimp can be found in most warm waters areas of the world. They are tiny creatures measuring no larger than about 2 cm. A large claw makes the snapping sound. Some experts claim these shrimp are able to shoot jets of water from this claw to stun any prey that might swim by. Others say it is used to mark territory and attract mates. Perhaps the answer is that these tiny creatures make snapping sounds for all of the above reasons.

Literally thousands of these shrimp live in marinas, wharfs, mud bottoms of bays, and many other areas. One observation we have made may be useful to those tracking pollution of coastal waters: it appears that the healthier the marine environment, the more snapping shrimp you can hear. We wonder if monitoring their sound could be used as a quick test for assessing the quality of seawater.

The light yellow display above the spectrogram shows the amplitude of the recording. The Blue-White vertical lines show the frequency spectrum of the shrimp’s ‘snap’. These very ‘broadbanded’ sounds extend from a few hundred Hz up to 5 KHz or more in this sample.

These Snapping Shrimp sounds were recorded using DolphinEar and an old cassette recorder. Later on, the tape played back into the computer to produce this graphic using the spectrogram software that comes with the DolphinEar package.