Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moulting crabs, lizards and snakes

It's common to find crab shells washed up on Phillip Island beaches -- but it's not often I find a whole crab.

In fact, in the 15 years I've been beachcombing on the island I've found less than five. Perhaps this is because the crabs keep such a firm hold of the rocks and seaweeds in which they live, using their pincers and clawed legs.

The top part of their body, however, sheds readily and is often found amongst the seaweeds and shells washed ashore. A crab sheds its shell as it grows, in a similar way to that of lizards and snakes.

One of my photos shows a framed collection of crab shells, sea urchins and the bleached remains of a weedy sea dragon found during the first years of our beachcombing, here on the island.

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