Aug 1, 2008

Kiasi Krab revisited at Changi

We came across this beautiful sea anemone on Changi. Next to it, a cluster of tiny yellow yet-to-hatch snail egg capsules. These turn out to be attached to a shell occupied by a hermit! The hermit crab is really small because it can disappear completely into its shell. All I could see was the tip of a tiny leg. It refused to come out. It certainly is a lot smaller than the giant sea anemone on its shell.

So why should this hermit crab be so 'kiasi'*? and carry such a huge burden around.

Well, one of the theories is that the sea anemone protects the hermit crab from octopuses. And there were indeed many octopuses on the shores this morning! We saw at least 5 of them out and about in the small area where these hermit crabs are found.

While the sea anemone protects the hermit crab, it might in turn benefit by sharing the leftovers of the hermit crabs meals.

In fact, a hermit crab shell is a great place to stay on. And many other kinds of animals do so.
This hermit crab was found further away from the Octopus Zone and it didn't have anemones on its shell. But inside its shell it had several white Slipper snails (Crepidula sp.)Slipper snails are gastropods (not bivalves). Often the smaller male will settle on top of a larger female snail.

On the other side of the shell were other stuff. Circular things with holes, and just plain holes in the shells.I'm not really sure what these are.

On the other side of the shell was also a chiton!Chitons are molluscs (Class Polyplacophora) which have an armour of overlapping shelly plates over their bodies.

It's clear empty shells are needed by a wide range of animals.

This is something to think about when we want to remove a shell from the shore.

From The Coxford Singlish Dictionary on
*KIASI (kee-ah-see) Hokkien term literally meaning, "afraid of death". Used to admonish someone for being cowardly. "Raining only, cannot go out, meh? Why you so kiasi one?"

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