decorator crab picture #63 [102K]
This miniature "decorator crab" has done an especially superb job of disguising himself with a type of blue-colored sponge. Note the eye stalks toward the left-center of the photo (the crab is facing the camera). The various sponge segments (blue in color) are like armor plating on the numerous legs, with one piece of sponge covering a leg segment, allowing for movement. On the left of the picture is a leg covered by at least three separate sponges, with one piece perfectly matched for each leg segment. Tiny hair-like projections protruding from the crab provide an anchor for the various pieces the crab has collected. The sponges are alive, as are most of the foreign materials used by to crab to camouflage itself.

As with most decorator crabs, this creature is so alien in appearance it tends to blend very well with its surroundings and is difficult to recognize by even the trained human eye. Often, the only readily identifiable part is the eye stalks, since the body shape and colors tend to blend so well with the reef.

Identification: unknown