Once in awhile, I gotta ask myself, WHY? Why do I like stomatopods? Why not harlequin shrimp, or octopus, or triggers?
After some thought, I figured I could break it up into several different reasons:
Happy Anniversary to the site!
Three years is not that long in "real time", but is probably a lifetime in "internet time"...
In early 1998, the internet stock frenzy was yet to be and internet stocks were (as they should be, to be honest about it) still hovering in single digits; java applets still romped around to slow down everyone's browsers and server side applications were mostly perl scripts; homepages about everything and nothing at all were starting to become commonplace as the web expanded from being a tool of academia to an everyday phenomenon almost as prevalent as TV; and a guy toiling away at an MBA first heard the term "mantis shrimp".
In the beginning, the site consisted mostly of references to mantis shrimp in the literature, some care and pest instructions, and some pics and references contributed by Dr. Roy Caldwell (who continues to be THE stomatopod guy --- an all-around expert on the critters --- and one generous dude). Dr. Malcolm Burrow, who is one of the founders of modern stomatopod research, seeded the Biology section (which is THE most important part of this site) by allowing the site to use a diagram of a stomatopod raptorial appendage in Aspects of a Stomatopod Strike, and Shane Ahyong (who might have gotten his PhD since then,gotta check!) sent info on the new phylogeny of mantis shrimps and helped usher in the Taxonomy area.
Three years later, the site is still here and growing (thanks to all the contributors of pics and notes!), logging a couple of thousand hits a day (and for one memorable day in early January registering 23,000 hits and several thousand unique visitors in the space of a few hours -- not Amazon.com type numbers of course, but pretty ok for a site dedicated to a relatively obscure group of critters). Reef aquarists and divers by far make up the bulk of the visitors (as evidenced by the fact that About.com's Saltwater Aquarium Guide is the number one non-search-engine source of visitors), but more and more people are coming in through links from academic and other sites (most visitors of course come in through search engines).
Has it been worth it?
In terms of accomplishing its purpose and goals, the site has probably been relatively successful in providing information on these interesting critters to curious visitors. For some people, at least, mantis shrimps are not simply mean and ugly ravagers of reef tanks...for some people, stomatopods are beautiful creatures who survey their environment through the animal world's most sophisticated eyes, and who wield one of nature's most effective and deadly creations, the stomatopod raptorial appendages.
February 3, 2001
Incredibly enough, I'm set to graduate from Seton Hall.... how time flies! I still clearly remember starting this site more than a year ago, and now it's grown quite a bit, and must be the most comprehensive site on these critters in the net. I don't pretend to be an expert on mantis shrimps, but I must admit I have learned a lot just by maintaining the site and taking care of several stomatopods at home. And although my interests in them has occassionally taken a backseat to other things (eg. I am heavily into server-side java) I still try to take the time to visit a fish store or two once a month to see whether any new specimens have come in. I will be posting some pics from vintage Stomatopod magazines of yesteryear by next week, so check in frequently to see any updates....
I started this site a short while back (February 4,1998), and I had included here some "caveats" about the fact that I was a relative novice to the field of marine aquaria, and indeed to the subject of mantis shrimps as well. A month later, I've learned quite a lot more about both subjects, and I hope that fact shows in both the content of this site, and the way I handle questions from interested readers.
I am a MBA student at Seton Hall University, and I support this tortuous condition by helping to design and construct web sites. I had started writing SF recently, and my interest in the stomatopods occurred when I came across a post in one of the science fiction newsgroups about a book series called the Uplift War, where the main idea was that sentient species arise by being "uplifted" by already-sentient creatures. The discussion centered around which earth species should be uplifted by Man, and one poster had this one-word post that simply said: "Mantis shrimps."
I became curious as to why someone would mention a relatively unknown ( at least to me at the time) and curiously named creature....
The rest, as they say, is history....
ASJ (March 1,1998)
Web Site Author: A. Sunjian
Site Created February 3, 1998