Sussing out predators for pesky green crabs
Hands up and sing out those among us who know who lives in a pineapple under the sea.
SpongeBob SquarePants! SpongBog SquarePants!
True, although it isn’t SpongeBob I choose to speak about. It’s his employer, Eugene H. Krabs, proprietor of the Krusty Krab, an undersea fast food eatery.
[An aside, already: The ‘H’ is actually for Harold. Truly. I looked it up. How cool is that?]
Eugene Harold (Armor Abs) Krabs is a red sea crab — Gecarcoidea natalis, p’raps. After 10 minutes of extensive research I’m uncertain whether or not Eugene is, in fact, a Christmas Island red crab — but he could be.
Eugene is an aggressive capitalist, I s’pose you’d say. His whole purpose for existing is to accumulate loonies. Well, not loonies specifically, because Eugene lives at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and is more likely to deal in foreign currency.
But it isn’t Eugene H. Krabs I’m mainly concerned about. Yet his aggressiveness should be kept in mind.
Eugene’s foreign cousins are my subject.
Green crabs — Carcinus maenas — are the little buggers who
Slant have become the bane of fishermen in the North Atlantic. Their burgeoning numbers are tormenting fisher folks because these “cockroaches of the sea” will eat anything in sight and thus are competitors for the yummies fishermen seek.
If you were a fisherman, they’d cause despair, eh b’ys?
“Harry, my sometimes crabby honey,” says Dearest Duck, who I thought was staying overnight with her sisters, “do you think you’re circling the bush one time too many?”
“My Duck,” say I, “you know how invasive those friggin’ little scavengers are according to the fisher b’ys. Sure, they’re considered to be one of the world’s worst alien invasive species.” “Tut, tut,” says Dearest Duck. Green crabs are common littoral…
“Harold!” Dearest Duck must have seen that bit about Eugene H.
Okay. I’ll speak of blue crabs —Callinectes sapidus.
Ecologists, or biologists, or whoever at Parks Canada, are getting excited about blue crabs because these fellows apparently are cannibalizing green crabs. The hope is that a growing population — even in our provincial waters — will thin out the hordes of the vile green boogers.
If this desired result comes to pass, fisher folks will be tickled pink, eh b’ys?
“What’s this, my Duck?” say I, because Dearest Duck has returned bearing a plate and steaming mug.
“Thought I’d get you a lunch, my industrious love,” says she, lodging the plate and mug beside my computer. “Here’s a nice cup of herbal tea and a crabmeat sandwich.” Dearest Duck being funny? She hobby-hawed with laughter and smote me across the shoulders, for frig sake.
“Now knock off draw-latching and get to the point.”
The point is … well, the point is that it’s neither green crabs nor blue crabs that are truly on my mind.
The creatures that inspired my musings are coconut crabs — Birgus latro.
Did you ever see those terrestrial big brutes?
Some of them are the size of small dogs.
There’s a picture of a pair of them standing their ground against a couple of hounds. The dogs look uneasy.
Listen to this: coconut crabs are the “largest land-living arthropods in the world.” In the world! According to information I garnered at Mr. Google’s house, coconut crabs “can grow to three feet from leg-to-leg” and weigh as much as nine pounds. I’m not sure how heavy that is in kilos but it must be handy about the weight of several bags of sugar.
And get this: coconut crabs have branchiostegal lungs. How about that? Coconut crabs have those fancy lungs instead of gills because coconut crabs are — as stated above — land-dwelling critters and can survive only a short time in water.
Another thing: coconut crabs have a long lifespan, up to sixty years in some cases. Sixty years! Old enough for a pension, eh b’ys? Here’s what I’m thinking. Finally, Dearest Duck would say if she was back to fetch the plate and mug.
If blue crabs are unable to defeat green crabs — who, by the way, can live out of water for days and days — there might be a way for Eco-Defenders to enlist a nightmare (truly) of coconut crabs to stomp the bejesus out of the troublesome little shaggers.
Thank you for reading.