Antarctica’s Bizarre Creatures Come to Life Online
by Megan Gannon
The strange creatures that thrive on the bottom of the chilly ocean surrounding Antarctica have been revealed in a comprehensive collection of snapshots and datasets now available online.
The database, published as part of a paper in the journal Nature Conservation, covers the frozen continent’s macrobenthic organisms, creatures that live on the seafloor and are big enough to be seen by the naked eye.
This community includes spiny echinoderms, sponges, crustaceans as well as some bottom-dwelling fish that are uniquely adapted to the region’s ice-laden waters — for instance, icefish (Notothenioidei), which have a natural antifreeze chemical in their blood and body fluids that allow them to survive in frigid temperatures…
The velvety red of a drifting jelly, the brick red of a vampire squid…many deep-sea creatures exhibit the colors of Valentine’s Day. When pursuing the prey object of their desire, deep-sea creatures may use red as camouflage. Wavelengths of light in the red end of the visible spectrum are preferentially absorbed by seawater, and therefore red colors appear black in the deep sea. Red animals disappear into the darkness, enabling them to ambush unsuspecting prey or avoid a hungry predator.
The bright red lights you can see in some of the clips (e.g., the sea star at 01:22) are lasers from MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and used to estimate sizes. The lasers are 29 cm apart.
The Red Rock Crab (Cancer productus) is found on the western coast of North America. The carapace reaches a width of up to 20 cm. The coloration of juveniles is diverse, often white, sometimes with red spots, or zebra-striped. Cancer productus is carnivorous; in Puget Sound it will crush barnacles with its large pincers for consumption. Small living crabs and dead fish are also eaten…
Crustaceans, such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp, feel pain, suggests a new study that calls into question how food and aquaculture industries treat these animals.
Researchers have suspected for some time that live lobsters dunked into boiling water and rubber-banded crustaceans stored in crowded fish market tanks experience tremendous pain. We reported on that some years back. But it’s always a challenge for scientists to prove conclusively that a non-human is feeling pain.
“On a philosophical point, it is impossible to demonstrate absolutely that an animal experiences pain,” researcher Bob Elwood of the Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, was quoted as saying in a press release. “However, various criteria have been suggested regarding what we would expect if pain were to be experienced. The research at Queen’s has tested those criteria and the data is consistent with the idea of pain. Thus, we conclude that there is a strong probability of pain and the need to consider the welfare of these animals.”
Elwood described how it went: “Ninety crabs were each introduced individually to a tank with two dark shelters. On selecting their shelter of choice, some of the crabs were exposed to an electric shock. After some rest time, each crab was returned to the tank. Most stuck with what they knew best, returning to the shelter they had chosen first time around, where those that had been shocked on first choice again experienced a shock. When introduced to the tank for the third time, however, the vast majority of shocked crabs now went to the alternative safe shelter. Those not shocked continued to use their preferred shelter.”…
is a species of spider/decorator crab found in the tropical waters of the Western Pacific from Indonesia to Japan. It gets the name orangutan from its long flowing orange setae (hair like structures) which look alot like the hair of an orangutan, these hairs are often filled with debris for camouflage. This species is also noted for being found on a specific species of bubble coral P. sinousa, although they can and will be found on other animals.
Neopetrolisthes maculatus is a species of porcelain crab (family Porcellanidae) from the Indo-Pacific region. It is a small, colourful crustacean with a porcelain-like shell. This porcelain crab is usually found within the stinging tentacles of a number of sea anemone species
The New Zealand half crab (Petrolisthes elongatus) aka Elongated porcelain crab is a species of porcelain crab (family Porcellanidae) native to the coast of New Zealand. Its carapace width is up to 18 mm (0.71 in).
This crab, Johngarthia planata, is one of the few animals that live on Clipperton Island. Their population is estimated to be around 11 million, which translates to about 6 crabs per every square meter on this tiny island.
The Japanese spider crab(タカアシガニ（高脚蟹）takaashigani,Macrocheira kaempferi, is a marine crab that lives in the waters around Japan. It has the largest leg span of any arthropod, reaching up to 3.8 m (12 ft) and weighing up to 41 lbs (19 kg). Adults can be found at depths of up to 600 m (2,000 ft), or as shallow as 50 m (160 ft).In its natural habitat, the Japanese spider crab feeds on shellfish and animal carcasses and may live for up to 100 years…
It’s a parasitic barnacle (called a Rhizocephalan) that plays a bit of mind-control on its host. First, it destroys the crab’s genitals. And if that weren’t bad enough, it attaches itself onto its host and changes the crab’s behavior so it cares for the parasite as if it were its own young!