Today we start the week off with this smiley shore crab from Jamaica. This crab made me realize just how many different creatures are decorated with white spots and lines (one of which is the whale shark, click here for post). People tend not to pay too much attention to crabs unless they can eat them, they are however fascinating to watch. These shore crabs may look like they have thin spindly legs, but they are fantastic at holding on even when the rocks are getting pummeled with waves. They eat just about anything and everything including any animals that are sick or dead, but they also eat worms, barnacles, clams, mussels, snails and algae. Their biggest fear are sea gulls especially when the crabs are malting (because their new shell is still a bit soft), which explains why they are so quick to scurry to safety under a rock ledge if you startle them. Thankfully this one was quite willing to pose for my photos.
This furry little creature is called a Teddy Bear Crab because its body and legs are covered in fur (setae). You can imagine my surprise to find a crab covered in fur, but there are actually many different species of this little crab. I took this photo in a very shallow reef off the coast of Vanuatu (a pacific island nation about 3 hours flight from the east coast of Australia). This shallow reef was partly exposed each day at low tide and was a great place to observe and photograph many weird and wonderful sea critters. This particular crab is covered in fur to trap sand and sediment which help it camouflage itself on the sandy floor. Some species of this crab have been seen carrying around mini stinging anemones in their two front claws to present to any potential threats it might encounter. A very ingenuitive way of forcing other marine creatures to be portable body guards.
For other posts on underwater creatures click here.
Imagine your day job consisted of rebuilding your home from scratch every single day. That’s exactly what this crab, along with millions of other crabs are repetitively doing. They empty out their homes of the destruction the tide brings in with it each and every day. Some of these tiny little crabs get quite creative with their designs of rolled up little balls of sand. For this particular crab, he always exited his home on the right, and placed all the little balls on the left, and walked all the way around to place them on the outside, getting progressively further away from the entrance. Every single pattern of sand balls around the homes of these crabs looked different, as was each of their methods. Maybe they each have a plan that I cannot possibly understand. Has any individual crab ever tried to do it differently? Or each day, every individual repeats their own distinct pattern? I guess I will never know, but it always interesting to wonder.