Crustacean

Can the Chesapeake Bay (and its Signature Blue Crabs) Recover?

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 26, 2015   View Article

Blue crab season in the Chesapeake Bay is just around the corner. To fill his coffers between now and then, third-generation Virginia waterman J.C. Hudgins is fishing for menhaden, a type of fish used for bait. What he’s seen in recent days comes as good news: clear water to a depth of eight feet.

“Ten years past, you couldn’t do that,” he said. “And so you know the water quality has improved considerably.”

The Chesapeake Bay is a 200-mile long estuary that runs from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia and is fed with waters streaming in from a 64,000-square-mile watershed that includes portions of six states and the District of Columbia.

Until recently, the bay was choked with nutrients and sediment spilling in from the 17 million people that call the watershed home.

Shrimp eyes inspire optical tech

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 27, 2011   View Article

The future of CD and DVD technology may be found in the eyes of peacock mantis shrimp, an international team of engineers recently reported.

The shrimp are one of the few animals in the world that are able to see circularly polarized light, the type of light used to make 3-D movies.

Scientists believe this ability is related to sexual signaling, Roy Caldwell, a biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told me on Friday.

Shorebirds Face Extinction Due to Crab Decline

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 18, 2006   View Article

The food web around the horseshoe crab—one of Earth’s oldest species—is beginning to unravel, scientists say.

Certain species of migratory shorebirds depend on excess crab eggs to fuel the final leg of their spring journey to the Arctic. Researchers are concerned the birds are in jeopardy.

Lobsters Use Smell Test to ID Buddies, Bullies

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2006   View Article

Jelle Atema says when he first encountered lobsters as a young marine biologist in the 1970s, he was surprised at how peaceful the giant-clawed crustaceans behaved toward each other.

“I’d swim around and see lobsters meet each other, give a display, raise their claws. But there was not much fighting,” the professor at Boston University’s Marine Program in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said.

Now he understands that those lobsters already knew each other. A few swishes of their small antennae were all they needed to pick up the other’s scent and recall their earlier battle that established who was dominant.

Decoding Spiny Lobsters’ Violin-Like Screech

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 28, 2004   View Article

In the same way that a child’s first week of violin lessons sends the family running for earplugs, so may the spiny lobster keep predators at bay, biologists say.

There are many species of this clawless lobster throughout the world, and they are the only animals known to make noise like an orchestra of violinists—though the lobsters’ sound is much more screech than sweet music.

Seattle Waterfront Falling to Gribble Invasion

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2004   View Article

Flea-sized crustaceans with seven sets of legs, four moving mouth parts, and a voracious appetite for wood-borne bacteria could cause the edge of downtown Seattle, Washington, to slip into the Puget Sound.

Known as gribbles, the crustaceans have devoured portions of a wooden platform and supporting timbers designed to stabilize a steel-and-concrete seawall built along the Seattle waterfront in 1934. The wall allows deep-hulled ships to dock at the city’s edge.

Snapping Shrimp Stun Prey with Flashy Bang

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 3, 2001   View Article

Among the fascinating creatures of the deep is a finger-size shrimp with an oversize claw—resembling a boxing glove—that it uses to stun its prey by snapping the claw shut. The snapping produces a sharp cracking sound.

When colonies of the shrimp snap their claws, the cacophony is so intense that submarines can take advantage of it to hide from sonar.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach