Friday, October 28, 2011

Dress up for Crabday!

Halloween is SO CLOSE (can you tell I love this holiday?) and I have my costume all picked out. You know who else is dressed and ready to go? This Crabday's special crab:

The Decorator Crab
Oregonia gracilis

tiny decorator crab: "Hello from the Pribilofs!"

There are several species with the common name 'decorator crab', but I wanted to focus on the 'graceful decorator crab' Oregonia gracilis because it's an Alaskan local. Decorator crabs like to attach whatever is around them on their backs and legs for camouflage costume ideas.

For example, this crab wants to be a sponge for Halloween:

see the hairs on his carapace and legs?
that's where he attaches his bling!

This crab wants to be red algae (or maybe a Spartan from 300??):

"Prepare for glory!"

Now, decorator crabs don't just decorate themselves for camouflage Halloween; some of the plants/animals they stick to themselves have toxins or chemical defenses that help protect the crab from predation.

Either way (camo or chemical defense), it's pretty entertaining to watch these guys dress themselves. Greg Albrecht (former snow crab student) recorded this fellow dressing up and shared it before, but it's worth a second view:

Have a Happy Halloween!

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