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Published on Apr 26, 2010
'Sally Lightfoot' (Natural History Episode 16)
The sally lightfoot crab (Percnon gibbsi) is an agile maneuverer on the rocky shores of the Caribbean. These crabs are particularly well-suited to life on craggy limestone rock in shallow water. The rockwork is the result of sea urchins eroding the limestone as they rasp off the algae growing on the surface. The cumulative erosion by sea urchins over many years creates a jagged network of fissures and channels through the solid rock. The sally lightfoot crab's pancake-flat body allows it to scuttle beneath the protective spines of a nearby urchin at a moment's notice. Anemonia bermudensis sea anemones like the ones seen in the film can also be common on the rocks in this surf-washed zone. The sally lightfoot's nimble legs allow it zig-zag harmlessly between the tentacles of these stinging animals. Between the crab's eyes you'll notice a pair of fast-flitting antennae that detect the 'smell' of food in the water. The turbulence of the environment requires accurate detection and nimble response.
Video, Aquarium + Original Soundtrack: Coral Morphologic 2010