Seriously, though, sound can kill you.
It is a long time since I had beery conversations with compatriots in a pub, under the watchful eye of a jaded, worldweary landlord.
I miss the bragalogues; those rambling ridiculous show-off pieces of rhetoric which came from the head of someone whose synapses were not firing on all cylinders.
Perhaps I have been gone too long. Tonight I read of a creature who would have sent an inebriated conversation to the stars.
His name belongs in the Wild West, his hunting methods come straight out of a Marvel comic. But this superhero is only just over one inch long, and he lives in the deep sea, where he disrupts submarine communications for giggles.
He gives me cause to thank my lucky stars that I am not marine, or aquatic, or very very small. Small ineffectual creatures of the deep sea, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Because sound can kill you. Seriously.
If you are a small defenceless shrimp, you don’t want to be around when the pistol shrimp comes to town.
Do not be fooled by his stature. Yes, he is only between 3-5 centimetres long. But stand well back. Far, far back. And watch him hunt.
He is called the pistol shrimp because of his claw. It is made of two parts, a hammer and an anvil, if you like.
The shrimp can pull back the hammer and lock it at right angles to the other half. Lock and load, boys.
And then he releases it. And emits a sound wave of more than 200 decibels.
Let’s put that into context. It seems commonly held that the noise in the front row at a rock concert might start at 120 decibels. A 200 strong marching band might measure 130db,topping an ear-piercing human scream which measures 128 db.
It is at 202 decibels that any human would be unable to survive, and the pistol shrimp generates eight more decibels than that.
He does it by releasing a blast of bubbles. As they collapse they reach, for an instant, the temperature of the sun.
I’m serious here.
So this shrimp of about five centimetres sends out a sonic death ray equivalent to the noise of a small earthquake, as hot as the sun. And for what?
To stun a smaller shrimp.
Have you ever felt unappreciated? Have you ever watched your light hidden under a bushel? Felt frustrated because those key skills weren’t getting their chance to shine?
On land this creature would rule the earth. We’d all be captives, Planet-Of-The-Apes style. Except with shrimps.
But creation has hidden it where all it can do is stun a few shrimps and scramble submarine signals.
It reminds me of a friend’s catch phrase: Paula, at Reflections in a Cloudy Mirror, always ends by wishing us enough. For that is what we need, when all is said and done.
The Pistol Shrimp – thank our stars – does not have an ego which urges it to world domination. All it needs is a shrimp supper.
For him, fame and fortune are not required.
All he needs is enough.
Thanks Natalie Dee from NatalieDee.com for the fabulous illustration. Go take a look at her site here!