One Great Shot: Bling with a Sting
A decorator crab dons its armor.
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While scuba diving in Komodo National Park on the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia, I found this decorator crab on a crinoid (a group of bottom-dwelling marine animals that includes sea lilies and feather stars).
Decorator crabs, which are found around the world, are called so because they “decorate” themselves by attaching animals, plants, or rocks to their bodies for camouflage and defense. The crabs fasten these items onto Velcro-like hooked bristles called setae on the back of their shells.
This particular crab was only about 2.5 centimeters wide and had attached hydroid polyps onto its shell. The polyp armor wards off predators by threatening them with a painful burning sting. Ouch!
To capture this knight’s translucent shining armor, I flashed a narrow beam of light onto its face and let the background go dark, allowing the details to pop.