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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 09:08 GMT
Warm welcome for noisy shrimp
Pistol Shrimp
The Pistol Shrimp cracks its claws to stun its prey
A noisy Mediterranean shrimp found off Cornwall is the first seen in British waters for 87 years.

The pistol shrimp was caught by fisherman Timmy Bailey in Falmouth Bay and is now in a quarantine tank at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay.

The bright orange creature is named after the loud cracking noise it makes with its claws to help stun its prey.

A marine expert has said it could be a sign of global warming.

I kept on hearing this cracking noise from the back of the vehicle as if someone was popping bubble wrap

Matt Slater
Timmy Bailey, from Falmouth, who caught the inch-long creature, said: "I'd never seen anything like it before.

"I almost stepped on it when it fell out of the crab pot, but as soon as I caught sight of it I knew it was something unusual."

Mr Bailey contacted the Blue Reef aquarium in Newquay, which collected the creature and identified it as the Mediterranean pistol shrimp with the help of local zoologist Dr Paul Gainey.

But its noisy nature was not realised until a little later.

Blue Reef aquarist Matt Slater said: "I started to think it was something special while I was driving back from Falmouth.

"I kept on hearing this cracking noise from the back of the vehicle as if someone was popping bubble wrap."

However, the latest arrival to the aquarium has prompted manager Richard Smith to believe its arrival off Britain could potentially be linked to global warming.

Warm seas

Richard Smith said: "Apparently this is the warmest October since records began and we certainly seem to be seeing a lot more warm water species around the south-west coast."

"We have had quite a lot of Mediterranean fish around Cornwall this year, which does suggest the seas seem to be warming up."

According to staff at the aquarium, it is the first time it has been recorded in British waters since 1914 - and only the seventh time since 1868.

The shrimp is now in a tank with another Mediterranean species - a rare sponge crab found by a Newquay fisherman.

See also:

21 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Shrimp, bubble and pop
14 Jul 98 | Asia-Pacific
Thai shrimp farmers protest
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