4. Feeling crabby?
Quite often overlooked on the dive in preference to flashier species, crabs are very ancient, and some of the best camouflaged creatures in the sea, and are therefore very cool. Decorator crabs adorn themselves with bits of stuff to look like something else, whilst Imitator crabs mimic their homes to blend in perfectly.
Orangutan Crab (Oncinopus sp.)
So called because they are furry and orange, the Orangutan Crab is an example of a Decorator crab, collecting loose algae and debris to help disguise themselves. They live exclusively in Bubble Coral formations, squeezing between the squidgy spheres and scavenging for food.
Corallimorph Crab (Cyclocoeloma tuberculata)
Another Decorator crab, the Corallimorph Crab really goes to town on the fixtures and fittings it gathers, collecting all kinds of pointless trinkets and detritus. We all know someone like that. Often hosting small communities of other creatures on its back, if you see a small island of coral and weed moving around on the sea bed, look for the blue legs of this crab that may be propelling it along.
Halimeda Algae Crab (Huenia brevifons)
An example of an Imitator crab, the Halimeda Algae Crab has a large fleshy appendage that looks exactly like the leaves of the Halimeda algae in which it lives. Very often, the only way you know they are there is when you see a green blob moving in a totally different direction to the rest of the algae.
Soft Coral Crab (Hoplophrys oatesii)
Another Imitator crab, the Soft Coral Crab is also known as the Candy Crab for its pale pastel colouring and spiky carapace. The Candy Crab feeds on the soft corals that proliferate in the waters around Dauin, which considering how well they mimic their food source must be confusing when they meet eachother – greet or eat?
[PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERTO FRATTAROLA]
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