Boxer crabs, known as pom-pom or cheerleader crabs (Lybia spp.), are fascinating and unique marine crustaceans. Due to its habit of carrying a sea anemone in each of its claws, which look like pom-poms or boxing gloves. It is found in the shallow tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean. Here are 24 fascinating facts about boxer crabs:
1. Scientific Name: Boxer crabs belong to the genus Lybia and are found in the Indo-Pacific region.
2. Size: These crabs are relatively small, with a carapace (shell) width of around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters).
3. Coloration: Boxer crabs have strikingly colored pincers, which are typically adorned with bright anemones.
4. Symbiotic Relationship: Boxer crabs have a mutualistic relationship with sea anemones. They hold a pair of anemones in their claws, using them for both protection and feeding.
5. Anemone Protection: The anemones attached to the crab’s claws provide a potent defense mechanism. When threatened, the crab waves its pincers, deterring potential predators with the stinging cells of the anemones.
6. Filter Feeding: The anemones benefit from this relationship by catching small food particles in the water using their tentacles, while the crab provides them with mobility and access to different areas.
7. Species of Anemones: The most commonly associated anemones with boxer crabs are typically from the genus Bunodosoma, but they may also be from other genera like Triactis and Spherodactylus.
8. Ambidextrous: Boxer crabs usually have one large claw and one small claw, but they can replace either claw if they lose it.
9. Splitting Anemones: When a boxer crab reproduces asexually by dividing into two (a process called fission), each new crab will have one of the original crab’s anemones, and the crab will then seek another anemone to complete its pair.
10. Ambulance Anemones: Boxer crabs have been observed “stealing” anemones from other boxer crabs if they have lost one of their own or lack one.
11. Nocturnal Behavior: These crabs are primarily nocturnal, becoming more active at night.
12. Hiding Behavior: During the day, boxer crabs often seek shelter in crevices or under rocks to protect themselves from predators.
13. Behavior Variation: The behavior of boxer crabs with anemones and those without can be quite different, with the former being more aggressive and territorial.
14. Aquarium Trade: Boxer crabs are occasionally sought after in the aquarium trade due to their unique appearance.
15. Social Behavior: In the wild, boxer crabs can sometimes be found living in small groups.
16. Camouflaging: The coloration of the boxer crab and its associated anemones can help them blend in with their surroundings.
17. Mobility: The crab’s pincers are used for defense, walking, and climbing.
18. Feeding Habits: In addition to the filter-feeding behavior of the anemones, boxer crabs are opportunistic scavengers, consuming various food items they come across.
19. Reproduction: Female boxer crabs carry eggs under their abdomen until they hatch into planktonic larvae.
20. Habitat: Boxer crabs are typically found in shallow, sandy or rocky marine environments and on coral reefs.
21. Scientific Discovery: The symbiotic relationship between boxer crabs and anemones was first described in 1973.
22.Vulnerability: As with many marine organisms, boxer crab populations are vulnerable to environmental threats such as pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change.
23. Lifespan: In the wild, boxer crabs can live for a few years.
24. Scientific Research: The unique mutualistic relationship between boxer crabs and anemones continues to be studied by researchers to understand the intricacies of this symbiotic behavior.
Boxer crabs are found in shallow water across the tropical Indo-Pacific area, from the Red Sea and the East African coast to Indonesia and New Guinea. It lives on sandy and gravelly seabeds, where it blends in nicely, and on living corals, where it clings with its long, thin legs.
Remember that treating marine life with care and respect is essential when observing them in their natural habitats or keeping them in aquariums.