Mantis shrimp egg mass (c) Amanda Franklin
I know I haven’t mentioned my research yet (stay tuned!), but an exciting event happened this week that I wanted to share: one mantis shrimp laid eggs! I haven’t counted them yet but there appear to be about 100 eggs, all about half a millimetre wide. They are greenish, yellowish and joined together in a big jelly-like blob.
Mantis shrimp holding egg mass (c) Amanda Franklin
Mantis shrimps are caring mothers in that they never let the eggs out of their sight and will even stop eating whilst tending to eggs. This is a long time without food because the eggs can take up to 30 days to hatch! Mothers will ensure every egg receives adequate oxygen by rotating and fanning the egg mass and keep the eggs in their cavities, away from predators. When the eggs hatch a tiny mantis shrimp larvae pops out. The larvae may stay in the cavity for a few days before emerging into the open ocean. Here, their two goals are to eat and not be eaten. Eventually they will settle to the sea floor, find their own cavity to live in and start the process again!
Unfortunately I do not think the eggs this female laid are fertile. She hasn’t been in contact with a male in the lab and she recently moulted, which means she would have lost any stored sperm. Nonetheless, it is exciting to see a different stage of the mantis shrimp life cycle!
Check out my other mantis shrimp post, “Eye Sea You”.