The mantis shrimp – a shrimp that, in growing up to 10 inches long, isn’t so shrimpy – has a razor-sharp pair of first claws that can slice open a fish (or your finger or toe) in a blink. Divers respectfully call them “thumb splitters.”
Mantis shrimp got their name because their front claws (the dangerous ones) are held folded under their bodies in a tight Z, like the praying mantis insect. Like some sort of little ninja lobster, a mantis shrimp can use its weapon on you before you can even react. Its slashes are the fastest-known movement in the animal kingdom.
Other species of mantis shrimp have a club-like appendage used to pummel hard-shelled prey (like crabs and snails) into meat-exposed bits. Larger mantis shrimps from the Pacific can punch with nearly the force of a .22-caliber bullet and in aquariums have been known to pop a hole in their tanks’ glass.
Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) are similar in size and shape to the sand tiger sharks that also inhabit The Maritime Aquarium’s “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit. But the lemon shark’s snout is more blunt, its teeth aren’t as visible and its pectoral – or side – fins are bigger. (Lemon sharks also can rest on the bottom; something the sand tigers rarely do.)
Lemon sharks have a hint of yellow on their bellies (hence the name). They grow to 10 feet long and range in coastal waters from New Jersey down to Brazil.
Lionfish (Pterois volitans) have distinctive brown or maroon, and white stripes or bands covering their heads and body. Adults can grow as large as 18 inches.
Lionfish are native to the Indian and western Pacific oceans, but divers – presumably, some very surprised divers – first encountered them off Florida’s Atlantic coast in 1985. How’d they get there? Well, because lionfish have such a cool unique appearance, they’ve been popular with people who keep saltwater aquariums. Scientists suspect that a few of these folks in Florida released their “pets” into the Atlantic. (The first known instance of lionfish escaping into the Atlantic is said to have occurred in Biscayne Bay, Fla., in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a beachside house and the home aquarium inside.)
However the lionfish got into Florida’s waters, the fish found things to its liking and started snacking on the native species and making more lionfish. Since then, lionfish have spread throughout the Bahamas, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and also north – now as far as Rhode Island and the south shore of Long Island.
The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is the largest of all North American frogs. They can grow to a length of 8 inches or more and can weigh up to 1.5 pounds. Females are typically larger than males.
American bullfrogs - widely known as just "bullfrogs" in Canada and the United States - are the most wide-ranging of all North American amphibians. They are found in freshwater lakes, ponds and marshes from Nova Scotia, Canada to as far south as Mexico and Cuba.
Male bullfrogs produce loud calls - which sound a lot like a cow's moo - to both attract females and establish their territory.
Poison Dart Frogs
Poison dart frogs (Dendrobatidae) are one of Earth's most poisonous species. Scientists believe that they get their toxicity from the insects they eat. Poison dart frogs raised in human care and isolated from insects in their native habitat never become poisonous.
Their coloring can be yellow, gold, copper, red, green, blue or black. This bright range of colors is a defense tactic, warning potential predators that they are toxic.
Their average lifespan is 3 to 15 years.
Poison dart frogs grow to about 1 inch long (about the size of a paperclip) and weight around 1 ounce.