Under the lens: Peacock mantis shrimp

Kay Burn Lim 27122_10151526960449233_1317229312_nis an aerial and underwater videographer currently shooting out on location in Indonesia’s Lembeh Straits for the upcoming Love Nature show ‘Strange Creatures

Famed as having some of the best ‘muck diving’ in the world, the straits are a macro-heaven full of tiny, unusual and curious critters, perfect for this particular assignment. And whilst a whole raft of amazing images has been filtering back to us at Love Nature HQ, one shot in particular caught our attention. We had to ask Kay to tell us a little bit about those all too alien-looking eyes (above) he’d recently caught on camera and what strange, otherworldly, creature they must belong to:

Hi Kay–good to chat. First off, what is this incredibly strange looking animal?

It’s a Peacock Mantis Shrimp! They may look strange but I also find them incredibly beautiful with their iridescent colours.

And where to they generally live?

Peacock Mantis can be found all over the world in most dive sites. They generally live in burrows they have dug in the sand and rubble. Most of these burrows form a tunnel with two exits. If they run back into their hole, you can generally find them peeking out the other side!

I assume those impressively big domes are its eyes?

Yes they are. Some of the most impressive eyes on the planet. Capable of seeing far beyond the visible light spectrum and with a 360 degree view of the world. It’s hard even to imagine that possibility!

How big is the animal in real life?

They range from larvae that have just hatched and can grow to close to a foot in length. The one shot in this photo was about five inches long.


How did you take the picture?

Peacock Mantis Shrimp are generally very inquisitive creatures. Care needs to be taken upon approach though as they can scurry away or hide quite suddenly. I inched closer and closer, taking short clips as I moved in. The purpose was to get close enough to fill the frame with certain parts of the body that were of interest. The eyes, the legs, etc.

What equipment did you use?

I shot this critter in 4k UHD with a Sony A7s and an Atomos Shogun recorder in Nauticam underwater housings. I used a Canon 100mm macro lens and to get more magnification, I used various wet lenses/diopters to further magnify the image.

What other Strange Creatures have you shot so far?

There are many in the Lembeh Straits. I am currently also shooting Wonderpus (a very interesting octopus), Hairy Frogfish and Stargazers (one of the most ugly looking fish that has a face like a skull). All of these critters will have their moments in the show.

Thanks Kay.