The Zebra Mantis Shrimp: 9 Surprising Things About the Biggest, Baddest Shrimp in Hawaii

Fun facts about the zebra mantis shrimp. No. 8 is surprisingly cute!

1. The zebra mantis shrimp can grow to 15 inches in length or more.

Photos: Courtesy of Roy L. Caldwell


You might say it’s the largest shrimp in the world, but there’s a technicality. Just as peanuts aren’t really nuts, they’re legumes, mantis shrimp aren’t really shrimp, they’re stomatopods.


SEE ALSO: It Came From the Ala Wai: 6 Strange Creatures That Thrive in Waikiki’s Sewage Filled Canal


2. The zebra mantis shrimp’s eyes can see several types of light, including infrared and ultraviolet.

When mantis shrimp mate, their bodies fluoresce with light that only other mantis shrimp can see.


3. The zebra mantises’ forelimbs resemble those of a preying mantis.

They are sharp as razors and strike prey with the speed of a switchblade knife.



4. Zebra mantises spend most of their lives in their underwater burrows.

That’s why you’ve probably never seen one.


5. Zebra mantises are monogamous.

They share their burrows with their mates for life. The scientist who shot these photos, Roy E. Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, studied a pair of mantis shrimp sharing a burrow in Kaneohe Bay over the course of 20 years.


6. The females lay more than 100,000 eggs.

Zebra mantis caviar!



7. Larval mantis shrimp are transparent.



8. A just-hatched zebra mantis floats between its father’s eyes.

See? Cute!


9. Hawaii's record-sized mantis shrimp is the 15-inch, 1.35-pound whopper.

It was caught in 2003 by a member of the crew dredging the Ala Wai Canal. The crewman later boiled and ate the shrimp. He said it tasted like lobster.