Constant Scandal and Drama Beneath the Waves on Display on Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) – Picture a combination of the uncivilized behaviors of “Jersey Shore,” “Mob Wives” and any land-based nature show combined. Then, throw in a touch of “The X-Files.” There's a lot going on underneath those scenic and scintillating waves that engage you on a trip to the Oregon coast - at places like Cannon Beach, Manzanita or Newport – a lot more crazed drama than you can imagine. Except that here, Snooky and The Situation, et al, are quite alien-looking. (All photos by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium)
This is the constant theater on display these days at the Seaside Aquarium, on the north Oregon coast. You may not witness it all the time – as it often happens quite slowly – but the watery creatures in those tanks are involved in the most scandalous and bizarre situations you can imagine.
Like the little crab (above, at top) that kept moving around from home to home, like some sort of undersea home mortgage crisis. It adds new meaning to the idea of predatory home lending. One little guy there recently had a an anemone attach itself to the crab's shell. But it turned out to be way to big for the crab to move around, and he was forced out of his own home.
Still, nature has reasons these two interact this way, according to Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium.
“Some species of crab have been known to attach sea anemones to their shells.” Boothe said. “The sting from the anemone often deters predators, such as octopuses, from eating the crab.”
Another critter, a hermit crab, was living in a shell that had been completely taken over by what is known as a Hermit Crab Sponge (Suberites domuncula). It too is on display at the aquarium.
It seems humans are not the only ones who like to decorate their abodes. The underwater dwellers at the north Oregon coast facility – largely the crabs – seem to gravitate towards things Nate Berkus-esque as well. A creature known as a Graceful Kelp Crab (yup, that's their name) recently molted, which means it shed its former shell and has begun growing a new one. This is cause for occasion to attach pieces of plants or shells to his exterior to help make him blend in with his surroundings.
Boothe said he wasted very little time in attaching a couple of strawberry anemones to his shell.
If you want to see a real freak show – with a touch of the eerie - one of the new acquisitions at the aquarium is the Longhorn Crab (Chorilia longipes).
“Typically living below 100 feet, these delicate crabs often adorn their shells with sponges or bryozoans,” Boothe said. “The Longhorn Crab’s common name originates from the crab’s prominent spines which project laterally from behind each eye resembling a horn.”
Not to be outdone in the flamboyant category, there is a funky creature called a Feather Star on display at the Aquarium. Looking a bit like a lost item from an Elton John tour in the 70's, they are found off the Oregon coast – in a range from Alaska down to Mexico.
Boothe said their mouths are located in the center and they can get as wide as 10 inches across.
“When disturbed by a crab the Feather Stars will often 'swim' away to settle in a new location,” Boothe said. “They can live at depths exceeding 4,000 feet.”
You can see all these critters – and perhaps far stranger – at the Seaside Aquarium. On the Prom in Seaside, Oregon. Seasideaquarium.com
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