ALIEN #20 – mantis shrimp larvae from the order Stomatopoda ~2cm long.
Whether as adults, or larvae, mantis shrimp (technically not a shrimp at all – that’s just a common name) in all their forms, are some of my all-time favorite marine varmints. When you’re bored, give it a google search, and learn about their incredibly sophisticated eyes, their amazingly powerful claws, and their impressive intelligence. But before they settle into adult life in a burrow, their larvae are transparent, free-swimming hunters, and are attracted to my lights in the empty blackness. Getting one of these hyperactive critters to hold still for a photo is an exercise in futility, and only with the most sophisticated focus tracking technology in today’s high-end cameras am I now able to get a clear shot while they zip through the water. After a lifetime of studying adults both in the wild and in aquariums, being able to successfully photograph the larvae in the wild is a personal treat after years of failure.