Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.
So goes the rhyme based upon a poem by Jonathan Swift, he of Gulliver’s Travels. It’s a rhyme that is so very apt in the marine world. It seems that the harder you look, the more you see.
Take these pictures of an Anemone Carrying Hermit, which I think is Dardanus tinctor. The anemones are from the Calliactis genus, all of which have evolved to live in a mutualistic relationship with hermit crabs. The ‘nems benefit from scraps of food left over from the crab’s messy meals and the crab is protected by the anemone’s stinging tentacles.
I have come across some accounts that call these parasitic anemones, but I believe that all are more accurately derived as mutualistic. Both species can survive without the other, if necessary.
So, to the point. I was quite pleased with these images taken on two separate night dives in the Red Sea, but it wasn’t until I viewed them on a large monitor that I noticed the large number of small, photobombing crustaceans.
Look closely and you’ll see hordes of small crustaceans that look a little like gammarids. I’m fully aware of various decapods that live within anemones, but I can’t find a reference that will help me identify these little critters…can anyone help?
It just goes to show that the closer you look, the more you see.
The shell of the crab is a mini ecosystem in its own right. Truly fascinating stuff 🙂