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Creature Feature - Jeweled Anemone Crab

 

One of the more spectacular looking crabs you can find diving in Kona is the Jeweled Anemone crab! This crab is often found on night dives in shallow and deeper waters.  What makes this crab unique is it collects 2 types of sea anemones and keeps them atop its shell. The crab and the anemones have a symbiotic relationship. The crab gains extra protection with the stinging tentacles of the anemone and the anemone can hitch a ride to more food options (even dining on leftover scraps from the crab’s meal).  While the anemones give the crab a flashy appearance, the crab itself is mostly brown with purple hues.  The eyes are their most mesmerizing feature.  Red eye stocks give way to a banded red and white stripe pattern.  Their green/silver eyes top off the look. 

 

Like other species of hermit crabs, the Jeweled Anemone Crab will molt its shell as it grows for one with more room.  After selecting a larger shell where it can completely tuck inside to hide, it will pull all of the anemones off the old shell and place them on the new shell.   For an entertaining visual of this process, watch Maui Ocean Center’s video of their Jeweled Anemone Crab choosing and then moving to a new shell!

 

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