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A really odd relationship under the sea

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jan 27, 2017 09:00 AM
Researchers have described a new, beautiful species of Caribbean Pagurid hermit crab. The "Candy striped hermit crab" appears to have a symbiotic relationship with the most unexpected of animals: moray eels.
A really odd relationship under the sea

Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae

Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae is a reclusive new hermit crab species discovered sharing caves with a multiple moray eel species.  Scientists are still unsure if these hermit crabs serve as cleaners for eels or may be simply commensal den dwellers where the hermit benefits from the protection and food scraps from the moray eel but the eel receives no benefit.  Or perhaps the service the hermit crabs provide is tidying up the dens (AKA cleaner crew) for their menacing roommates.  In any case, it's an odd harmonious cohabitation.

The new hermit crab species is described in ZooKeys.

moraycleanerhermit.jpg

In situ photographs of Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae sp. n. and its habitat at Bonaire diving site “Something Special”. A holotype male 2.4 mm, Bonaire (USNM 1291987) B paratype male 1.8 mm, Bonaire (USNM 1291989) C three individuals of P. mollymullerae sp. n. (foreground, not collected) in den with “broad banded moray” Channomuraena vittata D coral ledge habitat, with arrow indicating entrance to crevice where five specimens of P. mollymullerae sp. n. were collected E individual of P. mollymullerae sp. n. (expanded and enhanced in oval inset, not collected) on body surface of “broad banded moray” C. vittata, with frontal portion of brachyuran Achelous sebae visible on lower right.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.

Website: http://www.advancedaquarist.com.

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