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Carry crabs are awesome lil' buggers

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jun 27, 2014 09:00 AM reminds us how cool these tropical crustaceans are. Carry crabs take mobile defense to the extreme. If you're muck diving and spot a peculiar item on the move - whether it be a sea slug moving at high speed or a banana peel scampering around - chances are you have witnessed a carry crab in all its sheer awesomeness.
Carry crabs are awesome lil' buggers

Slippery fellow! Photo by Ned DeLoach,

Carry crab is the common name given to several species of reef crabs that pick up and carry around objects on their backs in order to protect themselves.  They use special up-turned hind legs to clamp down whatever they choose to strap on their backs, essentially taking hostage of unwitting creatures and using them as living shields.  It's a pretty bad day for any animal a carry crab decides to "bond" with.

A photograph by Anna DeLoach of an urchin carry crab.

We're talking about some pretty freaky and funny stuff they choose for their ad hoc armor.  Carry crabs usually latch on to urchins or upside-down jellyfish for their camouflage and protection ... pretty good choices considering few predators want to chomp down on urchin spin or suffer a jelly sting.  However, they've been observed carrying starfish, sand dollars, crinoids, anemones, sea slugs, sea pens, and even non-aquatic material like banana skins, tin/aluminum cans, and cardboard boxes!

To read more about carry crabs, visit our friends at  Here are a couple of videos of these resourceful weirdos in action.

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.


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