Green Shore Crab

Have you ever noticed that crabs have their head inside their body? That can feel a little weird if you think about it too much. It’s called a cephalothorax: a head-chest.

Here’s one with its head firmly buried inside its chest on Westray:

Green Shore Crab - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Being covered entirely in a hard shell, an exoskeleton, means it’s normally impossible for Shore Crabs to mate. Females wear a near-permanent chastity belt all over their bodies. Males have to wait until the female is almost ready to moult and then carry the female around for days, waiting. Here are my notes from my Nature Notebooks on the Shore Crab from over forty years ago:

Shore Crab - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the)

Their young live as plankton, floating in the sea, for two or three years before they settle on the seabed.

Here’s an abandoned carapace on Westray’s shoreline:

Shore crab – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

I let the living crab go very quickly and it walked off, sideways, with its head held high, metaphorically.

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