Monday, August 12, 2013

Talk about brain freeze!

This poor little Chionoecetes crab was wondering around the sea floor, minding his own business, when something tempting bubbled up in front of him, just begging to be eaten. Little did he know that it was actually a methane seep. Little did I know that methane bubbles, at that depth and pressure, could become frozen solids! The skin of the methane bubbles, methane hydrate, froze to the crabs chela and mandibles as the crab was trying out this strange new treat frozen gas bubble.

The video, captured by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, is a little dry (which is surprising for an underwater video! Hey-oh!) but if you wait about 1 minute into the video, you'll see the little gas-mustachioed crab:

You can almost hear him going, "What the!?!?" Luckily it looks like he can still move his mouth parts and has full use of his claws, so hopefully this has just taught him to be a little less adventurous when trying new foods.

PS - I'm not entirely sure, but I'm willing to bet that this guy is a Chionoecetes tanneri, or grooved Tanner crab. (Thanks for making me guess, MBARI! You know how I am with scientific names!) The clues? Thanks to my Biological Field Techniques for Chionoecetes Crabs (Jadamec et al., 1999), I first looked at the way the crab's sides jutted out.

"oh, hi!"

We can tell that he's not Chionoecetes opilio or C. bairdi because his branchial region sticks out farther than the area below, called the lateral margin. Next, his carapace has a deep notch in the branchial ridge as opposed to a shallow one with a little spine in the middle on C. angulatus or a super shallow interspace on C. japanicus.

You can even make a T (for tanneri) by putting an imaginary line across the top of his branchial ridge:

see it?

What do you think? Either way, he's a cute crab with one heck of a story to tell his friends!

(Thanks to Ashwin Sreenivasan for the link!)

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