Coral Reefs Now Have Bodyguards

03.10.2014

In the vicinity of the island of Moorea in French Polynesia coral reefs are being protected by... crabs! New research of oceanographers unravels the mystery of complicated symbiosis between so-called crab-guards and reefs on which they live. It turned out that claw owners intentionally guard their habitats in exchange for food and shelter. For example, about five years ago it were they who protected corals from invasion of «crown of thorn», sea-stars, whose diameter can reach the size of a manhole cover.

New research of oceanographers unravel the mystery of complicated symbiosis between so-called crab-guards and reefs on which they live

During the experiment, scientists specially took away large guard crabs from the reef. The results were sad: coral colony was wiped out in one night, despite the fact that the place was attended by other species of arthropods. By the way, the role of security guards is played not only by large individuals, who fight against starfish. The smallest brave crabs protect the reef from the snails who are simply not toticed by larger ones. According to the scientists, this dedication of crabs lets reefs exist for a long time.