Oh noes! Global warming to make shrimp louder

From “the ocean called and they’re running out of quiet shrimp” department comes this pointless excuse for using grant money. Science spoiler alert: cold blooded animals get more active when they are warmer. Call the Nobel committee!

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, SAN DIEGO–One of the ocean’s loudest creatures is smaller than you’d expect–and will get even louder and more troublesome to humans and sea life as the ocean warms, according to new research presented here at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020.

Snapping shrimp create a pervasive background crackling noise in the marine environment. Scientists suspect the sound helps the shrimp communicate, defend territories and hunt for food. When enough shrimp snap at once, the noise can dominate the soundscape of coastal oceans, sometimes confusing sonar instruments. Listen to snapping shrimp sounds here: https://youtu.be/1Y9IhiSk-Pk

Researchers will present new results Friday at the Ocean Sciences Meeting 2020 suggesting that with increased ocean temperatures, snapping shrimp will snap more often and louder than before. This could amplify the background noise, or soundscape, of the global ocean, with implications for marine life and humans.

“It’s a really cool little animal,” said Aran Mooney, a marine biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who will present the work. “They’re a crustacean, kind of like a little shrimp or lobster. They make a sound by like closing a claw so fast it makes this bubble and when that bubble implodes, it makes that snapping sound.”

A snapping shrimp in a petri dish. The tiny critters are among the loudest animals in the ocean. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Mooney and his colleague Ashlee Lillis detected a strong relationship between warmer waters and louder, more frequent snapping shrimp sounds by experimenting with shrimp in tanks in their lab and by listening to shrimp in the ocean at different water temperatures.

“As you increase that temperature, snap rates increase,” Mooney said.

This makes sense because shrimp are essentially cold-blooded animals, meaning their body temperature and activity levels are largely controlled by their environment, in the same way ants can move faster in warmer weather than in cool weather.

“We can actually show in the field that not only does snap rate increase, but the sound levels increase as well,” Mooney said. “So the seas are actually getting louder as water, warmer temperatures.”

Louder snapping shrimp could potentially have harmful effects on fish and even sonar used by submarines and ships.

“We know that fish use sound to communicate,” Mooney said. “Fish call each other, and they make sounds to attract mates and for territorial defense. If the seas get louder, it has the potential to influence those communications. We don’t really know that yet. That’s something we have to follow up on.”

Human use of sound in the oceans might also be impaired by very loud snapping shrimp. Common instruments like sonar fish finders might be affected, Mooney said. There is also the possibility louder seas could affect instruments the Navy uses to detect mines, which could have implications for national defense, he said.


57 thoughts on “Oh noes! Global warming to make shrimp louder

  1. I listened to that video that was supposed to have the sound of the shrimp, but all I heard was what sounded like a basket of shrimp being deep fried.
    Must be lunch time.
    Someone let me know when they find the right video.

    • Nicholas, looks like you heard Bubba Gump taking care of this little problem. I’d like mine with a beer and a salad, please.

      • You wrotten lot, you beat me to it! 😉 Thoses sounds said exactly the same thing to me!!! I’d just like to add (literally), a disgusting amount of butter to the pan to fry them in along with some finely chopped garlic! Deeelish!!!!

    • You cannot deafen a submarine and you can’t “confuse” a sonar.

      “We know that fish use sound to communicate,” Mooney said. “Fish call each other, and they make sounds to attract mates and for territorial defense. If the seas get louder, it has the potential to influence those communications. We don’t really know that yet. That’s something we have to follow up on.”

      Wow, just imagine what the ocean must have been like in the past when mean temps were 10 deg C warmer than today. It is surprising that any creature today has any hearing ability. Evolution should have decided it was pointless millions of years ago and eliminated it altogether.

      This may explain earlier research showing that fish were going deaf as waters warm. Maybe this is a natural defense mechanism against the noisy shrimps. More work is needed to clarify this important aspect of our warming world.

      Please give generously.

  2. I love the pitter patter of little claws in the morning
    Sounds a lot like Raindrops from a gentle storm falling on wet ground.

    • Not only would their activity and metabolism go up with warmer water, but the water itself becomes less viscous and allows increased snapping speeds.

      That is, if course, only if the ocean’s warm, which is seriously in question.

  3. Noisy shrimp are more likely to be found by predators; global warming therefore helps endangered sealife. Noisy government agencies pursuing wasteful, purposeless research are more of a concern. How much CO2 can we save by closing Woods Hole?

  4. The sound of Snapping Shrimp is preferable to the shrill of a 16 year old high school drop out complaining about the weather.

    • I spent over twenty years hunting Soviet subs and snapping shrimp added considerably to the decibel level of background noise when using underwater acoustics.

      So they were at one time a minor national defense issue. Not a laughing matter.

        • It was only a laughing matter if you didn’t care where Soviet subs were in the Cold War. Other than that it was a hindrance in certain areas.

  5. And here I was told that Gorebull Worming was going to kill all sea life. Poltergeist shrimp anyone?

    So when will Bigfoot and Nessy get their expert peer reviewed articles? Oh right. Funding first, fantasy later…

    • Well, you can pretty well be sure that global warming is going to make Nessy and Big Foot even harder to find. The grant money is going to need to significantly increase.

    • Both, John. And each will be bad. Its the initial sound bite that gins up the clamoring chorus of climate crisis cries from useful idiots. But the sound bites don’t have to be consistent, just alarming. [In rereading this, I kind of like “clamoring chorus of climate crisis cries.”]

  6. Thanks, Anthony. I got a good chuckle from this post, especially the introduction. Classic WUWT.


  7. The researchers mental wanderings are silly, of course, and they must know it. I have never actually heard snapping shrimp while snorkeling anywhere in the northern Caribbean — that is, Ive never heard them while actually in the water with them.

    However, snapping shrimps are very cool, and once they led me to believe that I had fire in the bilges of my sailboat — amplified by the hull, the snapping shrimp inhabiting the growth on the water side of the hull made a sound that was identical to a briskly burning camp fire (or boat fire…) — I chased the sound for 15 minutes, pulling up deck plates looking for the fire before my mind reminded me that I had read an essay about snapping shrimp in the Caribbean — and twigged!

  8. Clearly, it’s far worse than we thought. Or better. Depends if you like your shrimp warm and noisy or quiet and “acidified”.

  9. These shrimp seem to be more sensitive than even laboratory quality thermometers.
    They are able to detect warming as small as 0.01C.

  10. “If the seas get louder, it has the potential to influence those communications. ”

    Yet they have absolutely no care about all the infrasound added by off shore wind turbines.

    Far more potential danger to the whales, dolphins etc than a mere nuisance to soic radar

  11. Fascinating stuff. So animals get more active when warm – just like me. Personally I am worried I might start seizing with another 15-20 degrees of global warming. Of course there are limits to this brilliant observation. I used to cook live lobster in restaurants when I was going to school. The finished result was anything but hyperactive. Similarly an excess of cold seems to pretty much shut down any voluntary motor activity when sustained for long enough – but it keeps the victim fresh indefinitely in a solid state. Just thaw and microwave. Now where is my grant money.

  12. The logical fallacy here is applying linear catholic logic to a complex interconnected structure such as an ecosystem.

    1. Cold blooded organisms’ metabolic rate changes with temperature.

    2. Everything is heating up due to CO2

    3. Shrimps get more active, everything they do they will do more. Including making more noise.

    Anyone with the tiniest understanding of the nature of living organisms and ecosystems will realise that linear Catholic logic is going to get you nowhere with biological/ecological systems. Unfortunately this enlightened subset account for less than 0.00001 percent of climate grant troughers. They are political maestros but scientific imbeciles. They embarrass all true scientists with painfully idiotic pronouncements like this one.

    Cold blooded organisms regulate their temperature by moving between different locations. For instance by vertical migrations. If water gets warmer they might simply spend less time near the surface. So the sea could easily get quieter, not louder.

  13. “I’ve found that shrimp get louder as they become more active.”

    Sorry, no grant money.

    “Uh, and it’s due to global warming and its REALLY bad.”

    Here’s a cheque.

    • I can prove to you,with enough grant money,I can prove the louder noise is the females. You see,with warmer water,the males become more sexual. The louder noise is from the females having to shout a much louder NOOOOO.

  14. Sounds like there is potential to use the shrimp noise to detect submarines. Similar to the way civilian electromagnetic emissions can be used to detect stealth aircraft.

  15. Ummmm ….. not a very evolutionary wise adaptation … I mean, the whales are going to have a field day with these guys.

  16. Mark Lee
    February 19, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    – “Sounds like there is potential to use the shrimp noise to detect submarines. Similar to the way civilian electromagnetic emissions can be used to detect stealth aircraft.

    Quite right and that’s presumably good news for the military.

    – And if : “Common instruments like sonar fish finders might be affected, Mooney said.”

    Presumably that’ s good news for the fish too.

    Also if

  17. Who needs thermometers? Just use water-tight microphones indeed. Now there’s a new temperature proxy. Shrimp noise spectrum instead of thermometers. Obviously more grants are needed for the establishments of precise calibration charts.

    Can’t stop science.


    • Yes why bother with expensive equipment, remote stations, satellites… when you have ice, trees and shrimps.

  18. Amid all this talk of insect apocalypse, biodiversity crisis and looming extinction, an actual scientific study by the NERC on 5000+ species of invertebrates and plants (plus mosses, lichens etc) finds that between 1970 and 2015, biodiversity has increased in the UK. There has been on average an 11% increase of habitat range.


    CAGW is a death cult. Looking at life they see only death.

  19. A copperhead snake will bite your ass quicker when it’s 95F than when it’s 65F. 98.6F may be the optimum temp for life on Earth. Anyway, don’t kiss a copperhead on a hot day!

    • I meant this as a reply to Phil Salmon with regards to a cold blooded species being more active with warmer temperature.

      Anyway, a loud shrimp will attend a lunch buffet with a predator much sooner!

  20. So, are we also going be deafened by louder and more frequent cicadas?
    The cicadas on our east coast are already deafening, like 100dB more!

  21. With any luck these noisy shrimp will be killed off by ocean acidification and the noise will be gone for good.

    The increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) has been driving all marine organisms to live in increasingly acidic environments. In the present study, we evaluated the long-term effects of increased seawater CO2 on survival of marine shrimp. Survival was significantly suppressed; final survival rates were 55% (experimental) vs. 90% (control)

    { Kurihara, Haruko, et al. “Long-term effects of predicted future seawater CO2 conditions on the survival and growth of the marine shrimp” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 367.1 2008}

  22. Pretty sure louder shrimps is major gift to Putin’s submarines and makes it even more likely that after Ukraine, the Russian BUKs will drive on US soil because Trump delayed the anti-tanks missiles for a month or something.

    So minimizing climate globul change is a gift to Russia and goes against the inter agencies consensus.

    All roads lead to Putin.

  23. I was just thinking about the phenomenon of little critters making big noise, and I recalled one lecture in which it was asserted that what is called a frog chorus, when frogs emerge from hibernation following a big rain after a prolonged dry period, that these frog choruses as they are called are literally “the loudest sound in nature”.
    I can say that, with having heard only the ones that occur in Florida in person, that they are amazingly loud.
    But I have never heard the sound of an entire herd of elephants stomping and trumpeting through a forest, or that of a V7 volcanic eruption, but I am pretty sure those may be louder.

  24. It’s really difficult to discern between stupid and deceit nowadays. But I can’t help thinking this kind of stupid that comes up so often is an intentional distraction to get skeptics riled up for fun. It’s difficult to let go of the denial that prevents some of us from admitting our fellow man could be this stupid.

Comments are closed.