Stomatopod collection in Oahu


New member
Can anyone suggest spots, tools, and techniques for collection in Oahu? I'm taking a trip over next month and am considering finding another mantis to keep or a pair if possible. I've got Kordon Breather bags, styro boxes and considering some Stress Tabs for travel.

I certainly have great respect for the islands and all marine habitats for that matter. I'll be collecting for personal use only and will be getting an aquarium collection permit.

Thanks for any input!

I've been transporting stomatopods on planes for 30 years and rarely have any significant mortality.

You really don't need all that gear and I would strongly advise against the stress tabs. What you do need are a couple of nets - I ususally carry one 4 inch and one 8 or 10 inch, a piece of coat hanger about a foot long to use as a tickle stick, a pair of light gloves, and something to put your catch in. I've found that Cubitainers (one quart size) work perfectly. They are strong enough so that the animals don't puncture them, they collapse for easy transport, and they are notn-toxic. If you want to go with something cheaper, use 1 or 1.5 liter plastic bottled water containers (Do not use bottles that have contained something like soft drinks. Even boiled, you can't get rid of chemicals absorbed by the plastic and they will kill stomatopods in hours.)

I strongly advise against checking the animals. I carry mine onboard in a gym bag and usually keep them under my seat. (I usually can get 24 cubitainers into a bag.) The overhead gets way to cold on most flights from Hawaii.. If you have to check the animals, then a styrofoam box with a commercial heat pack designed for shipping aquarium stock will work. (Hand and foot warmers sold for cold weather activity get way too hot.)

If you use a 1 guart cubitainer, fill it one quarter full with the best seawater you can find. While you are in Hawaii, you can probably keep animals for several days if you simply change the water daily and keep the temperature between 72 and 82. Just leave the lid cracked and be really careful that housekeeping doesn't spay your room with insecticide. Change the animals one last time before heading to the airport and given that you are heading to the Bay Area, they should be fine. In the airport, try to find a quiet spot and open all the containers for a minute or two. You can also do this on the plane, but some times the flight crew gets overly curious. If the trip home is going to take more than 12-18 hours, I would advise taking along a couple of extra full bottles of seawater and changes the animals just before boarding. Remember, you are filling the containers only 1/4 full so one container can change four stomatopods. It is really critical that the containers only be partially full of sea water. It is oxygen that is critical - not water quality. Thats why I also open the containers whenever possible.

Last month I sent to Lysiosquillina to Italy with a colleague. She missed her fight in New York and the trip ended up taking three days. The animals arrived in great shape.

Thanks very much for the info Dr. Roy.

I hadn't heard of cubitainers before and they look like just the appropriate container. Flexible PE wouldn't have any problem with smashes and even spearing, where acrylic critter boxes can crack and plastic bags can be punctured. We don't happen to have a scientific supply that carries cubitainers locally do we?

I visit familiy frequently over in Honolulu so no worries about housekeeping or hotel rooms. Noted: Open containers when I can to keep oxygen levels up. I will be travelling from and to the Bay so hopefully container time will only be 7-8 hours max.

Kara, I've spoken with Hawaii's DAR office and surprisingly no permit is required for hand or small net collection if for personal use. There are regulated species but these are mostly game fish and game inverts like crab and lobster, and absolutely no rock or corals can be disturbed. I definitely don't want to take advantage of the resources there and will be getting a collection permit to be as legal as I can. Also I won't take anything if I can't guarantee that I can get them home safe and healthy, and I'll have to remember to put a donation in the Waikiki Aquarium's box so that I can support Dr. Carlson and give more than what I'm taking hopefully.

I still may not return with anything other than macro and bugs for my aquariums anyways. As much as I've looked and probed holes that I've seen there, I've never yet seen a mantis shrimp in the wild. I guess Dr. Roy's 30 years of experience would come in handy... :)

I'd settle for some nice video if I could find a mantis I think. :)

I have seen Cubitainers ocassionally at REI. Water bottles work almost as well.

There are a few places on Oahu that have lots of stomatopods. Probably the best is Kaneohe Bay where I do most of my collecting. Assuming that you can't get onto Coconut Island, go out at a low (lower the better) tide and walk slowly in water that is from 1 to 6 inches deep. I usually try to time it so that I am walking the water's edge on the incoming tide. As the water covers Pseudosquilla ciliata burrows, they come out to forage on small fish and shrimp before the water gets deep enough to allow large fish predators to move into the area. This is the best time to spot them. Generally, they will dive for cover as you approach, but with a net and tickle stick, you can usually chase them around until they tire and you can ge them in a net. If they go down their burrow, you can usually force them out by sticking your finger into one end and forcing your hand/finger through the burrow until the animal pops out the other end. Usually you can see muck coming out of the second entrance. If you can identify the second entrance, put your net over it and the animal will flee right into it.

There are also Gonodactylaceus mutatus in this same area, but they generally stay in pieces of rubble. Try picking up porous, grapefruit pieces of coral rubble (many will be covered with clumps of algae) and inspect them for perfectly round holes about the size of a dime. If the cavity has an entrance that is perfectly round and smooth, there is probably a stomatopod inside. Probe the cavity with the tickle stick and if you feel a strike, there is an animal inside. Since you should not smash the rock, you will have to try to harrass the animal until it bails. Unless it is a female with eggs, that usually is fairly quickly. (I usually take a bucket so that I can do this without losing the animal in the water.)

You can also snorkel for P. ciliata, but you will see far fewer.

If you are a diver, I can give you directions on how to catch O. brevirostris, one of the greatest stomatoods going!

Gonodactylus said:
If you are a diver, I can give you directions on how to catch O. brevirostris, one of the greatest stomatoods going!

Greater than a Rubic's cube solving O. Scyllarus? It isn't something that is going to slit my throat is it? I'm not certified at this time. I may be soon, but not before this trip.

No, unfortunately I don't have access to Coconut Island unless I take a long swim or maybe ask for a huge favor. I don't think so though. If I were able to go it would be as an observer. I'll be staying away from the Waikiki canal also... :D I guess L. Maculata wouldn't fit in the neck of a cubetainer anyways... :)

Ok, so P. Ciliata, and G. Mutatus may be possible... Sounds cool! Now I'm very curious about O. Brevirostris. I'm an ok free diver but I don't think I can hold my breath for long while paranoid about getting whacked. :( Maybe a metal thimble is a good thing for your finger to push through a den with? Heheh... ok, I'm not that worried.

Awesome info and THANKS Dr. Roy. Do you need anything from there? Mangroves? Zippy's chili? :)

ok im kinda a newbie to this site...

i could really really help a few of you guys out.
but i need to gather some pertanent information

if and only if i do not need a permit for shipping, or its ez to obtain. i will try to catch and ship mantis to whomever would like one

i live on kaneohe bay about 300 feet from coconut island....i have been collecting bobtail squid and various other critters off of my dock. and have also been trying to breed them..(see my post in the ceph forum)

i strongly suspect that ill need a licence though, ill look into it.

any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated
Hey JVH,

From what I gathered from the DAR, Aquarium permits are required for collecting with a 3' or longer net or for commercial reasons. I don't know what the provisions are for shipping but I was told that hand carrying animals wouldn't be a problem.

I'll be headed over there in a couple of weeks if you'd like a collection partner. Actually I'd probably benefit the most since I don't know that area well.


ok i just wasted a few hours of my comapies time while i looked up agriculture laws...
I can't find nything severly limiting exporting(livestock), so after a check with the postal sevices i may be able to after all.

roguecorps, i work every day so if i do go, i go out at night . but i can give you some specific locations where to go /park in kbay
. I dont keep mantis ATM but ill definalty try to pick up a few..
I have recently seen several bright orange 6 inch specimens, some stripeed greenish guys, and black/white and yellow ones. with some warning i could hold a few for you
Im wondering for small mantis whether a 1 liter+ Nalgene bottle would work. nalgene is indestructible, but ive never had a mantis in one.

You can usually find them in a camping or outfitter store. Ive had one for years, dropped it off a 50 foot cliff once on accident half full of water onto rocks and the thing didnt break. Dont think a Mantis could destroy it. Might be a good transport method for smaller mantis shrimp.

Here I am visiting the islands. :)

Actually I did end up with Nalgene bottles. Not the clear ones, but the "nalgene" brand PolyEthylene bottles. I've scouted out some areas of K. Bay and have seen tons of activity... There are holes almosts each square foot. I've seen what I think must be P. Ciliata ducking into holes as I approach, and loud clicks coming from mangrove bunches with rubble at their bases. Also tons of crabs running around.

I'm just about to check out tide charts for a day or two before I leave for home. Hope all goes well...

Thanks for the help and tips and hopefully I'll have some pics to share when I get back.

hey jvhfish

hey jvhfish

I"m just wondering if u have a 'light loving' tank ;) hehe or any marine tanks. I read that you were keeping and trying to mate bobtail squids.

Do you guys know of anybody on oahu on this board and what not?..
Hey Rouge,

Looking forward to seeing some pics and hearing more about your manits hunting experience. Good Luck.

Skunked in Oahu... :(

Skunked in Oahu... :(

Welp... here's the scoop. I didn't find any mantises. Most of the animals that I saw shooting down into their holes were crabs. Of the holes I followed down most were very steeply angled or straight down and didn't seem like they were leading to a back-door. Maybe I just wasn't in the right spot.

I was looking in a sandy flat with mangroves nearby just North-West of Coconut Island. I didn't have the best of tide. When I scouted the area the water was ankle deep and when I came back to hunt the water was up to knee deep, even though online tide charts showed a fairly low tide.

Still had a great time anyways... I chatted with a couple of local fisherman wading and a resident and none of them knew what mantises were. I observed a couple of watchman goby/shrimp pairs, and it was hilarious how the fish would warn his shrimp "pal" back into the den if I got too close. I did end up getting a collection permit which was a good idea, since their office also has lots of information on where collection is illegal. I did carry back some hermits, a couple of algae blennies and a small amount of live sand to culture. The laws are pretty liberal as long as you are collecting for personal use only.

That's okay... maybe next time. :)

hey rouge, sorry to hear that you didnt find any...
....this weekend i saw vey large white manits right off the end of the coconut island service peir (not the one on the sland but the one the use to get there)
this guys hole was as large as a tennisball.
i tired the back door method also, and didnt catch a thing.
the succsuss i have had has been from picking up live rock that has/could have them inside and extracting them.

where was this permit office you mentionsed? i have been looking everywere for this information....