Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Mantis Shrimp

Hemisquilla ensigera


Fun Facts

    Mantis shrimp are not true shrimp, but get their name because of their appearance.




What animal strikes faster than a cheetah, has the eyesight of an eagle, is (almost) as ferocious as a great white shark, and looks like a cross between an insect and a lobster?  It's the mantis shrimp and it can be found in the shallow waters right off the shores of Palos Verdes and Catalina Island, among other areas in Southern California.
The mantis shrimp is a formidable, and highly predatory, carnivore with lightning-quick reflexes, and stalked, compound eyes that diligently scan its environment.  It often waits motionless in its burrow quickly snatching any unwary passerby for its next meal.  It can also be observed stalking its prey and aggressively smashing it to bits with its front appendages.  The diet of stomatopods consists of a variety of prey items including small crustaceans, snails, clams, sand dollars, heart urchins, brittle stars, worms and fish.
Four species of mantis shrimp live in the cool temperate waters and soft, sandy mud environments found off Southern California.  Burrows, about 1-4 inches in diameter, with shelly debris surrounding the openings are the homes of mantis shrimp and may continue, parallel to the surface, for 3-10 feet.  Burrows play a crucial role in the lives of mantis shrimp and are used for defense, feeding, mating, reproduction and molting activities. 
Mantis shrimp are usually found at the Aquarium in tank number 9.