Decorator Crab

The Decorator Crab, or Collector Crab, is a marine saltwater crustacean in the Majoidea super-family with several different species. 

The Decorator Crab is difficult to see in its natural habitat in tropical reefs and lagoons because it covers itself with aquatic plants and materials from its environment.

About 75% of crabs in the Majoidea super-family decorate themselves for camouflage. Some cover themselves completely and some cover themselves a little bit.

Decorator Crab

The Decorator Crab camouflages itself very quickly to adapt to its environment and to hide from its predators. Its predators are easily confused by the strange objects on its back. It can remain very still, without moving, when predators approach.

The Decorator Crab decorates itself with shells, algae, seaweed, coral, gravel, stones, sponges, the empty carapaces of other crabs (such as the shells of legs), and even live sea anemones.

It does this by using its nippers (front claws) to tear off plants or pick up shells. It chews the plant or object and then rubs it firmly onto its body until it sticks to the hooked setae (bristles or hairs) all on its body.  

Different species of Decorator Crabs have their own favourite materials to decorate themselves. Some use only sponges, and some use only algae. 

Decorator Crab

Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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