Brief Communication | Published:

Snapping shrimp make flashing bubbles

Nature volume 413, pages 477478 (04 October 2001) | Download Citation



Snapping shrimp produce a loud crackling noise1,2 that is intense enough to disturb underwater communication. This sound originates from the violent collapse of a large cavitation bubble generated under the tensile forces of a high-velocity water jet formed when the shrimp's snapper-claw snaps shut3 (Fig. 1). Here we show that a short, intense flash of light is emitted as the bubble collapses, indicating that extreme pressures and temperatures of at least 5,000 K (ref. 4) must exist inside the bubble at the point of collapse. We have dubbed this phenomenon 'shrimpoluminescence' — the first observation, to our knowledge, of this mode of light production in any animal — because of its apparent similarity to sonoluminescence5,6, the light emission from a bubble periodically driven by ultrasound.

The cavitation bubbles created by shrimp in stunning their prey have some surprising properties.

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Author information


  1. *Faculty of Applied Physics and J. M. Burgers Research Centre for Fluid Dynamics, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands

    • Detlef Lohse
    •  & Michel Versluis
  2. †Lehrstuhl für Zoologie, Technische Universität München, Lichtenbergstrasse 4, 85747 Garching, Germany

    • Barbara Schmitz


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Correspondence to Detlef Lohse.

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