P is for Pom Pom Cheerleading Crab
Oh! This little 2 inch crab is so beautiful, and so clever.
This is a pom pom or cheerleading crab, endemic to Hawaii, in a photo by Hechtonicus:
Pom pom crabs are tiny, about 2 inches wide, and they are inedible. They are not heavily armoured crabs – their carapaces aren’t strong, their legs are delicate.
They have evolved another way to defend themselves – if they are threatened they wave their front legs in the air – front legs which are grasping two poisonous-tentacled anemones.
Yes – that’s right, they live in a symbiotic threesome relationship with two anemones. The anemones can reproduce asexually by being pulled apart – which is what the crab does if it loses one of them. It pulls the other one in two, and soon they have both grown into full-sized anemones armed for deployment.
Both species can live without the other, so presumably the anemone gains something from the partnership as well – the crab uses the anemones as a type of fishing net as well as a weapon, trailing them in the seabed to pick up food, and eating it off the tentacles. Perhaps there is enough of this food left over, which also helps the anemone to survive.
So – here is my pom pom cheerleading crab chant:
Pom Pom (Cheerleading) Crab
our claws are stars,
We’re the kings,
in boxing rings,
pom pom crabs
with fists of stings,
We will win,
it’s very clear,
give us pom pom
crabs a cheer!
© Liz Brownlee
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Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.