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Do not be a parasite, be a Coral Guard Crab!

Colorful Coral Guard Crabs


Let us meet the crabs known for its attractive colors and a warrior attitude to its coral host. 


Ever heard of Coral Guard Crabs?


The coral guard crabs have been previously known as obligate ectoparasites, type of parasites that lives on the outside of the coral host, but recent findings proved that these crab species are in fact guarding, protecting, and defending their branching coral hosts from their predators! 


The guard crabs (Trapezia spp.) and the corals seem to have a mutual relationship. While a pair of coral guard crab shelters within the branching corals, they constantly eat off dead tissues (flesh), excess fluids, and decomposing parts that hampers the coral’s growth. 


Do you know that one of the popular predators of corals is the crown-of-thorns sea star? These guard crabs are ready to attack no matter how large the predator is. 


Watch it here:

 
The crown-of-thorns starfish eats coral reefs; coral reefs happen to be the home of the guard crab. This puts these two tenacious aquatic creatures on a direct collision course.

Always remember that no matter how tiny or large an organism is, each species has its own role to play in the intricate web of life of the underwater world. 


Do not be a parasite, be a Coral Guard Crab!



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Text and photo by NMP Zoology Division

© National Museuem of the Philippines (2021)

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