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Birth of a Coral Island

Nature of Coral

Flowers of the Reef

The Echinoderms

Amazing Defensive Weapon

Turtles of the Reef

Strange Behavior of Reef Crabs

A Deadly Killer

World's Largest Shellfish

Strange Oysters of the Reef

Rare fish of the Coral Seas

Unusual Vegetation

Birds in Millions

Angling Unsurpassed



A deadly killer

Frequenting the many shallow reef pools is a small but interesting prawn-like animal about 6 or 7 inches long. As an observer approaches, it darts away with tremendous speed into the shelter of the coral. If you are lucky enough to capture one you will find that it is a mantis prawn, or "prawn-killer" as it is sometimes called, for it is a deadly enemy of prawns. Its most characteristic feature is its formidable pair of claws which fold together like a pocket-knife. In some species they terminate in needle-like points curved inwards, while in others they are armed along their opposing edges with long, curved and sharp teeth. Lying at the edges of their burrows, mantis prawns wait for prawns and other small animals to come their way. Then with . lightning-like speed they seize them in their claws, gripping them as in a vice. If handled, they can inflict a painful wound, and in the West Indies they are frequently referred to as "split-thumbs."





Wonder Book of Knowledge