Third Pod from the Sun

Third Pod from the Sun

Gunslingers of the Sea

April 01, 2019

Snapping shrimp are small but mighty creatures: they’re only a few inches long but are among the noisiest animals in the ocean. The loud cracking noise they make when snapping their claws sounds almost like a gunshot, and when enough shrimp snap at once, the din can be louder than the roar of a passenger jet flying overhead.

Snapping shrimp are typically found in warm, shallow subtropical waters all over the world. But in 2016, researchers at Oregon State University discovered snapping shrimp inhabiting the Oregon coast for the very first time. They now suspect the crackling of the shrimp’s claws may serve as a dinner bell for eastern Pacific gray whales residing in those waters.

In this episode, ocean acoustics specialist Joe Haxel describes the myriad of animals that contribute to Earth’s underwater soundscape, including fish that growl and crabs that scratch their backs. Joe discusses how he and his colleagues identified snapping shrimp by their characteristic racket and what the presence of snapping shrimp means for marine life along the Oregon coast.

This episode was produced by Lauren Lipuma and mixed by Kayla Surrey.