The crew of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer has spent the last three weeks roving the seafloor around the Pacific Islands and generally seeing what comes up. For much of the expedition, it’s hours of coral, and a lot of crinoids. Occasionally, an octopus or fish makes a cameo.
But on March 29, the final diving day of the Okeanos expedition, things got extra spicy when a caridean shrimp and a type of midwater dragonfish danced with death for the cameras.
Set to some kind of pastiche Rocky training montage song, the battle rages for several tense minutes. The Okeanos team called the play-by-play, which they deemed “Deep-sea Battle: Featherweight Division.”
The shrimp lashes out from its spot on the seafloor, grabs the fish, and drags it brutally head-first back to the bottom. It then proceeds to shred its foe apart while the fish still kicks, picking into to its gut and freeing another, smaller fish from within. Nature, that’s fucked up.
“Deep-sea shrimp are typically observed as being scavengers, not hunters, and scientists wondered how this shrimp was even able to capture the fish,” they write in the video description. For context, the biggest of these shrimp grow to around six inches.
With the dragonfish thoroughly owned, the shrimp hauls it out of the Okeanos’ view to feed on its lifeless corpse. What compelled such a small creature to lash out like this? Life at the bottom of the sea is complicated, and it’d be unfair to speculate on what drives a shrimp to such ruthlessness.