Stick swimming crab

A stick swimming crab in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii

This month, Becky’s April Squares challenge theme is ‘Bright.’ (See more responses here.) First up I thought I’d share something very unusual, which I consider myself lucky to have seen.

You’ve probably heard of stick insects, but the stick swimming crab is a far less often encountered creature. Most crabs scuttle about on the sea floor, but swimming crabs have flattened segments on their legs, which they use to propel them through the water. But even with this different method of propulsion, swimming crabs tend to stay close to the bottom.

The stick swimming crab (Charybdis baculum) has a different approach. It heads for the bright light at the surface where it paddles along, maneuvering with its spindly legs. It will sometimes snag bits of floating debris and attach them to its body to enhance its appearance. Its goal is to look like a small, drifting haven for juvenile fishes and other marine organisms that often gather under such floating islands, which offer them some protection from predators. With the stick swimming crab, that safety is an illusion. Instead, they’re part of the crab’s lunch box, to be picked off at its leisure.

Stick swimming crabs spend most of their time at the surface, but return to the sea floor for periodic molts. This one looks like it has recently molted.

Oh wait, it’s just a stick.

Also posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme of “Something Learned.” See more responses here.

34 thoughts on “Stick swimming crab

  1. naturebackin

    Ha ha – very well done. I was getting a bit fed up and then scrolled a bit and saw ‘oh wait its just a stick’, and I thought ‘great, that’s exactly what I had been thinking’! .🙂🦀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bushboy

    What a laugh Graham. Coming to it 4 days later I wondered why you posted a stick and some weird story about a stick swimming crab that was a bit of bullshit. I read the last bit, the comments and saw the date. Well done, an excellent April Fools. Maybe would have me more sucked in if you used capitals 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham Post author

      Ah yes, the thorny question of whether one should capitalize names. Mostly I don’t, but I kind of feel it’s more clear to do so. I don’t often do April Fools stuff these days, but I couldn’t resist on this one.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. BeckyB

    lol!! Initially I was really peering at the screen, thinking where is the crab? Then I began reading and thought wow . . .then I suddenly thought hold on it is 1st April!! Just brilliant Graham, love your bright square. Superb shot too

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Graham Post author

      I was looking for something in my marine invertebrates book and came across swimming crabs, which I’d never heard of before. On the opposite page was a photo of the strange-looking thorny elbow crab (Lambracheus ramifer) and I thought, ‘I’ve got a photo that looks a bit like that.’ And then the cogs started grinding …

      Liked by 3 people

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