Storms raise rare visitor from depths
Aresident of Dungeness picked up two mantis shrimps off Greatstone beach near the Pilot pub over the Christmas and New Year holiday.
They are fascinating creatures, but not seen very often as they live in burrows on the seabed beyond the lowtide mark. They are not found in rock pools, so it is really only after strong gales that you might come across them, as the odd one might get washed up on the tideline.
They are very distinctive, being about 5-10cm long with large mantis-like pincers that are used to grab, spear or club prey as they wait in their burrows.
The power of this punch from the pincers is so quick and powerful, it is measured as the equivalent of the velocity of a bullet fired from a gun.
The creatures’ eyesight is also incredibly complex.
In recent years, occasional individuals have been washed up on the beach around Dungeness, where they tend to be found by anglers or bait diggers. But the mantis shrimp’s need for sandy seabeds and its exclusive marine lifecycles mean it is difficult to monitor them or gauge how rare or abundant they are around the Kent coast.
For more information, contact Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership, by phoning 01797 367934, emailing mail@rmcp. co.uk or visiting www.rmcp. co.uk