An often overlooked area by some divers are the Arthropods of Lembeh and these are some of the most interesting and varied creatures out there! Arthropods include crabs, lobsters, porcelain crabs and squat lobsters.
The most fun of all the crabs is the one pictured, the Mosaic Boxer Crab. This crab his highly exclusive with the most chance of seeing it at night when it comes out to hunt. However, with its carapace only reaching 4mm in length it takes some very good eyes and a certain amount of luck to catch a glimpse of this animal. This little crab carry’s around two anemones to use for protection, lifting them up to deter any potential predators. It has been noted before that 2 Boxer crabs can fight over larger anemones.
Other true crabs that we find in Lembeh that always provide entertainment are carrier crabs.These crabs are significantly larger, around 5cm or even slightly bigger at times. These crabs have specially modified back legs which can pick up objects and lift them above themselves to use for protection. Most commonly they pick up sea urchins to use as a spiky shield. They have also been seen to pick up banana leaves to hide under and bits of driftwood.
Box Crabs are also a very interesting animal to watch. These larger crabs live in very sandy dive sites and spend most of their time buried under it with only their eyes sticking out. They have two shovel like claws which shifts large amounts of sand out the way so they can sink underneath to hide. They also notably ‘hug’ other box crabs in between these shovel claws which makes for a fantastic photo opportunity.
Potentially the hardest crabs to identify are the widely spread decorator crabs. Decorator crabs vary drastically in their size, shape and colouration. This is because not two decorator crabs are the same. Each crab looks different depending on their environment. They move around the sand or coral area they live on and pick up floating detritus. This could be bits of sponge, coral or algae. They then ‘decorate’ their body with this flotsam and jetsam. This results in some fantastically well camouflaged creatures with most divers not realising that they are actually looking at an animal at all!
Porcelain Crabs are not ‘true crabs’ but they are no less interesting. There are two main types of porcelain crabs commonly found around Lembeh. Firstly the most common is the spotted porcelain crab. These crabs live on anemones with clown fish and often hide in the anemone itself or underneath it. The usually aggressive clown fish happily tolerate their roommates because the crabs keep themselves busy cleaning the anemone free from algae and parasites. The second species of porcelain crab is the soft coral porcelain crab. These pretty pink crabs live in the pink soft coral branches that come out of the sand. They have a distinct pink/white pattern to blend into the stalks of the soft coral and can be very difficult to photograph if they are in the mood to hide!
Squat lobsters are also not ‘true lobsters’ but are very common around the Lembeh Strait. Squat lobsters live in a range of habitats. They are frequently found living in feather stars and other crinoids and they come in a variety of colours to match their host. These include the elegant squat lobster and also baba’s squat lobster. A third species lives solely on barrel sponges. This is the hairy squat lobster. These little animals are slightly smaller than their cousins but are very striking, being covered in long pink/purple filaments, making quite the attractive photo subject.
Come on over to Lembeh and see what our guides can find you!