This crab ripped off its pants for the camera…

nudecrab

Twitter informs me there’s something called #NationalSendaNudeDay. Am I doing this right?

(Maybe the Post Office and/or Hotmail are desperate to justify their existence.)

Anyway… here is a recently molted crab we found during an early morning intertidal zone hike with students adventure travelers during our seminar adventure tour in the Andamans near Wandoor in 2015.

The one on the right is basically nude. A nude crab. And on the left… crab pants.

For a bit of background on why a crab would take off its pants, let’s turn to NOAA:

Crabs (and other crustaceans) cannot grow in a linear fashion like most animals. Because they have a hard outer shell (the exoskeleton) that does not grow, they must shed their shells, a process called molting. Just as we outgrow our clothing, crabs outgrow their shells. Prior to molting, a crab reabsorbs some of the calcium carbonate from the old exoskeleton, then secretes enzymes to separate the old shell from the underlying skin (or epidermis). Then, the epidermis secretes a new, soft, paper-like shell beneath the old one. This process can take several weeks.

A day before molting, the crab starts to absorb seawater, and begins to swell up like a balloon. This helps to expand the old shell and causes it to come apart at a special seam that runs around the body. The carapace then opens up like a lid. The crab extracts itself from its old shell by pushing and compressing all of its appendages repeatedly. First it backs out, then pulls out its hind legs, then its front legs, and finally comes completely out of the old shell. This process takes about 15 minutes.

Note: It pulls this off while leaving the original shell more or less intact. That’d be like getting out of a wedding saari without actually undoing any fold or wrap and leaving the hole thing standing. Could you do that, Ishani?

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Octopus stinkeye

I see you, too

I see you, too

A shifty octopus trying to get away from me on a dive off Unawatuna, Sri Lanka.

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Big, bad barracuda

Swarming at Dixon's Pinnacle


The last of my divemaster training series from the Andaman Islands. It’s about time, as I finished DM more than a year ago. *sniff*

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Heads up, barracudas

Hundreds of them riding the current


Great barracuda, hovering above Dixon’s pinnacle…

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Clownfish giving me the stink-eye…

Waiving in the current

A tiny clownfish stares down a giant diver.

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Healthy coral in the deep blue

Undisturbed...

I spent several days diving recently off Panama’s Isla Colon, where the water is cloudy with sediment, corals are sometimes covered in sand, mud and dirt and large schools of fish are hard to come by. This is likely due, at least in part, to the runoff from all the plantation activity in the surrounding country.

I can’t help but contrast that with photo, from Dixon’s Pinnacle in the Andamans, of remote, relatively untouched coral that is clean, free of disease, blue shifting from the depth and unbleached.

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When the stars make you drool… it’s a moray!

Open wide

Johnny’s Gorge. He’s actually just breathing. And he’s substantially more afraid of me than I of him.

But still, these guys are unnerving. Amazing and unnerving.

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Lionfish out for a swim

Lionfish

These guys tend to stick close to reef and shelter during the day, frequently not moving at all and relying on their camouflage and poisonous barbs to defend them.

This one, was out above the reef almost in open ocean for a cruise at Johnny’s Gorge.

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Like a big pizza pie… that’s a moray!

Wrinkly with teeth

All leather and fangs but no actual threat (to divers).

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Lionfish have weird eyebrows…

Am I right?

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