Friday, June 17, 2022

Running spots

I made it to the Willow Point reef today on time to catch the low June tide.  I have a bunch of photos to process, but I had to do this one first.

Where the sea lettuce grows over the rocks, walking is hazardous; it's as slippery as polished ice. I was walking slowly, carefully, keeping my eyes on the ground, trying to find bits of mud or stone to step on. Otherwise, I never would have seen this crab.

Well, really, I didn't see it; I saw the movement on the sea lettuce. I couldn't see what was moving, but I took photos anyhow. And look!

A tiny spotted crab!

Two things made it hard to see; first, the size. Those little round balls are the floats of sargassum seaweed. I fished one out of my tank and measured it; lengthwise, it measures 2.5 millimetres. That makes the crab's carapace about 8 mm. across the widest spot.

And second, the spots. It blends in nicely with the blotchy coral leaf seaweeds. And to add to the camouflage, the crab seems to be wearing a hat of green sea lettuce, like the kelp crabs so often do.

I can't find a match for this crab in my guide book.

Llegué hoy a la playa de Willow Point, a tiempo de aprovechar una de las mareas más bajas del año. Y ahora tengo muchas fotos que tengo que procesar. Pero tuve que hacer esta primero.

Donde la lechuga de mar, Ulva spp., cubre el suelo, caminar resulta peligroso; esa alga, mojada, es tan resbalosa como lo sería hielo pulido. Iba caminando despacio, mirando con cuidado cada paso, buscando algo de piedra o lodo para sostener los pies. Y por eso, llegué a ver este cangrejito.

O mejor dicho, no lo vi. Vi el movimiento encima de las algas. El movimiento nada más; no pude distinguir que fue lo que me llamó la atención. Saqué fotos a ciegas.

Foto: un cangrejito muy pequeñito, lleno de manchas.

Por dos razones fue difícil de ver. Primero, por su tamaño. Esas pelotitas a su lado son los flotadores del alga sargaso. Busqué uno en mi tanque y lo medí. A lo largo, mide 2.5 milímetros. Eso hace que el carapacho del cangrejo mide aproximadamente 8 mm. en la parte más ancha.

Y segundo, por esas manchas. Se confunde muy bien con las manchas del alga coralina. Y para camuflarse aun más, lleva un gorro de lechuga marina, a la manera de los cangrejos kelp.

No encuentro nada como este en mi libro guía.

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