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The Crabs that Build Their Own Galaxy

Sunday 12 May 2019

Small hermit and soldier crabs in Malaysia and Australia build their home digging a deep hope in the sand on a beach. They got a good idea of how to move sand up during his construction. Down in the hole this crab is making sand balls and later push them up to the surface, 2-3 balls at a time. Pushing sand ball more far from the hole they form a kind of sand ball flower or sand ball galaxy.

Up close you can see the almost perfectly spherical balls that the crabs engineer.  They are meticulous in their method to say the very least.

Just as our own galaxies are separated by space so it is too with the tiny galaxies that the crabs make - they can extend along the whole reach of the beach.  However, they will never last the billions of years that make up the life span of, say, the Milky Way.

These Sand Bubblers in Malaysia can be seen sifting through huge amounts of sand in search of detritus. The waste sand builds on their head and they kick off the ball before they can't see over it. Many thanks to Vimeo film maker Stretta for this fascinating footage.

In the evening high tide wave will wash everything out and crabs will start their construction again next day during low tide.

Yet however impermanent these burrows may be the sand balls the crabs heave aloft and out are a testament to their perseverance and sheer will to survive.

First Image Credit Flickr User AlexanderY

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