180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Freaky Crab Findings on Two Ends of Oregon
|Mole crab found at Nye Beach (photo Terry Morse)
(Newport, Oregon) – If you look around long enough
on any part of the Oregon coast, you’ll find something unusual.
Normally, it doesn’t take too long, but sometimes it’s right
in front of you, in the oddest place.
Such is the case with two different ends of the coast.
In Newport, a mass stranding of crabs has drawn some attention, and in
Seaside, someone has discovered a Siamese twin crab maturing amidst a
brood of thousands of scarlet king crabs.
Newport resident and beach expert Terry Morse found a humongous
array of crabs lying around the beach there on March 10. It’s one
of those regular irregularities the ocean likes to cough up periodically,
especially in spring.
|Mole crab stuck in its own burrow entrance (photo Morse)
At Nye Beach, he found a bunch of mole crabs – the
tiny creatures that usually show up at the tide line in late summer, and
cause a weird sensation on your feet, if you’re in the water.
“Mole crabs, Emerita analoga, above, are rotund little
anomurans, the branch of the crustaceans that includes hermit crabs,”
Morse said in
a web page about the finding. “Anomura means ‘irregular-tailed.’
It isn’t unusual to find their shed shells (molts) on Pacific beaches
in springtime. A mass of them can be seen in the photo. The close up of
a molt shows the large, feathery second pair of antennae at the right.
These are used to filter small particles of food from the water as waves
wash over the crabs sitting in the entrances to their burrows.”
Mole crabs grow to about 1 and 3/8 inches long by one inch
What’s unusual about this mass stranding of mole crabs is that they
were alive. Normally, you’ll find them dead in such a stranding.
|Zig-zag trail made a larger crab (photo Morse)
Morse said they typically migrate up and down the beach
with the tides, rolled up the beach by incoming waves, or down the beach
by their backwash.
When the tide goes out, the wet sand slowly becomes more
densely packed as the water leaves it. Morse could see the crabs were
having a hard time digging into the dense sand.
This made for another curious discovery.
“From a distance, I saw a large expanse of disturbed,
darkened sand mid-beach, that consisted of the burrows and trails of mole
crabs,” Morse said. “The largest section was about 100 feet
long by 20 inches wide.”
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Morse also photographed a mole crab stranded in the entrance
to its own burrow, and captured some unusual trails in the sand.
“When mole crabs move in water too shallow to support
their weight, they take lurching steps backward, resulting in a trail
with a ‘broken-line’ or braided appearance,” Morse said.
Also uncommon are the perforation marks made by the mole
crabs. Morse believed that was from the claws on the creature.
|Siamese twin scarlet crab larvae (photo
Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)
Morse believed the creatures would survive their ordeal
on this day, because it was a cool day and the sand was quite wet.
Morse also found something else that really caught his
eye that day.
“More unusual than the mole crab aggregation was
the long zig-zag trail below, which I observed on 10 March,” he
says on his web page. “It was probably made by a ‘true’
(short-tailed, or brachyuran) crab, perhaps a Dungeness (Cancer magister)
or red rock crab (Cancer productus).”
The big news for the Seaside Aquarium recently was that
it was the proud
surrogate parent to thousands of little baby scarlet king crabs –
a species that is rarely seen because it normally lives 3,000 feet or
more below the surface. It’s so rare, in fact, that many experts
believe the aquarium is the first photograph the young of a scarlet king
crab, much less have them live, in captivity.
|Scarlet king crab at Seaside Aquarium
But the female that was donated to the aquarium in January
is still producing some surprises. The Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany
Boothe discovered a Siamese twin among the larvae.
found this buddy - or should I say these buddies,” she said. “They
were still alive.”
The aquarium is attempting yet another first: raising the
larvae to maturation. The big challenge here is that they live so deep
that they’re used to much more chilly temperatures than the aquarium
can easily provide, plus they’re a species that lives in higher
“We are doing quit well so far in the raising
of these larvae,” Boothe said. “They have been alive for a
week and should be going through their first molt any day now. I have
placed about 60 in the frig to keep them cool, and so far it seems to
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Something for everyone: smaller homes
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here for video of Dec. storm aftermath
Coast Best of Awards for the Year And the winners
are: best of Oregon coast restaurants, lodgings, science, odd events
in nature and stunning moments for 2007
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Cool Ideas for Oregon Coast Romance Be it the season
of Valentine's or be it any time of the year, Oregon's coastline has
essentially cornered the market for cuddle-inducing possibilities and
gushy activities for the hand-holding set
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports
- Oregon Coast Beach Connection now has mobile lodging and dining listings,
along with weekly lodging availability reports
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Where the Columbia meets the Pacific,
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A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy