Diving Lembeh is always epic, but the night diving here is particularly spectacular. Many unusual nocturnal critters come to life at night after staying tucked away and hidden during daylight hours. Crabs, in particular, are particularly noticeable at night time including the ever adorable sponge crab (Dromiidae). The sponge crab family contains many species which are often hard to identify…because the crab is hidden under its sponge!
The grumpy looking sponge crab is what you might expect if you gave a garden gnome an exoskeleton and claws and, like garden gnome decorations, they only come to life at night. During the daytime they remain still and hidden under their fancy hat. These are not always sponges, some species will also make use of ascidians and this crab family joins a whole host of other crabs that employ a special relationship for camouflage and defence (see decorator crabs for example). This relationship is called aposematism.
The sponge crab will use its claws to carve a living sponge into the right shape to fit them (if you’re going to wear a hat for life you should at least ensure it’s comfortable). The crabs have specially modified back legs that curve upwards allowing them to hold their excessive headgear in place – they would do well at the Royal Ascot! Not only does this provide excellent camouflage (you often don’t see them unless they move) but they also taste unpleasant which deters potential predators.
We’ve had another great week of diving in Lembeh with plenty of familiar faces returning to celebrate Christmas and New Year with us! Happy New Year from all of here at Two Fish Lembeh and we hope to see you in 2020 for more amazing muck diving in Lembeh!
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