Deep-Sea Crabs May Color-Code Their Food

Written by on September 10, 2012 in Marine Life

A new study from Duke University finds that deep-sea crabs “color-code” their food.  They have a modified color vision that is sensitive to both blue and ultraviolet light.

Duke biologist Sönke Johnsen explained the crabs may use this combination to “sort out the likely toxic corals they’re sitting on, which glow, or bioluminesce, blue-green and green, from the plankton they eat, which glow blue.”

The color-coding idea is “still very much in the hypothesis stage, but it’s a good idea,” Johnsen said.  To solidify the idea, the researchers need to collect more crabs and test their sensitivity to other wavelengths.

Deep-sea Galatheid crab. Photo credit: Dr. Tamara Frank, Operation Deep Scope 2005 Epedition, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.

Deep-sea Galatheid crab. Photo credit: Dr. Tamara Frank, Operation Deep Scope 2005 Epedition, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.

You can read the full story from Duke here:

The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology on September 6. You can read the full paper here:

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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