Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Mole Day!

Happy Mole Day! October 23rd is celebrated as "Mole Day" because of Avagadro's number:

6.02 x 1023

That number is how many molecules are in one mole of any substance, anywhere! For this special day (which is also my birthday), we're having a special Crabday:

Mole Crab
superfamily Hippoidea
here's lookin' at you, mole crab

I've got some celebrating to do, but I'd like to share 6.02 things about these crabs with you:

1. There are actually a few different species of mole crab, but they all live in the surf zone and filter food from the water as waves wash over them. That's like you sitting at the beach and waiting for a wave to bring you a cheeseburger!

"Here dinoflagellate, dinoflagellate, dinoflagellate!"

2. Because of where mole crabs live, they have to constantly shift their bodies in the sand (as it moves with each wave) and make hasty escapes within the sand when predators pass by. So they dig (hence their name), but they actually do it backwards.

mechanics of a mole crab: on the right is the "recovery stroke"
and the left shows movement (the M arrow) as it shuffles its thoracic legs

3. Mole crabs are also called sand crabs or even sand fleas, but don't mistake them with those nasty little amphipods. It's just gross and insulting.

you don't want to hurt this guy's feelings, now do you?

4. They are edible, and some people deep fry them shell and all (well, minus their telson). I'm not sure how I feel about popcorn mole crabs, but I won't say I'll never try it.

5. Aside from people, mole crabs also have to dodge sea birds and ghost crabs! And we all know how fast ghost crabs can be!
"AAHHHHH!" - mole crab
(a long-billed curlew with its quick snack)

6. You can go fishing with them! Apparently pompanos love the little guys: just hook 'em on to some line and go surf casting. Some say the orange eggs of female mole crabs are what attract the fish, but I'd say leave the ladies alone! (You can always tie a fly to mimic a female mole crab with a full clutch if you really want that orange burst.)

a momma mole crab with some wee babies
(I wonder if they hatched on October 23rd!?!?)

Happy Mole Day!

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