Man Interrupts Two Tiny Crabs In Their Premating Hug

NewsflarePublished: July 11, 2018Updated: July 12, 201847 views
Published: July 11, 2018Updated: July 12, 2018

They can be found in virtually all of the world's oceans, as well as throughout the freshwater systems on land. Despite the crustaceans' apparent success at surviving for this long, one cannot help but think. Doesn’t their odd body shape and rigid shells make mating and procreating physically difficult? Just how do crabs do it?

This heartwarming, yet peculiar video demonstrates but a glimpse of how crabs create tiny crablings. It shows the moment two crabs hug and refuse to be separated.

The video, shot on the beach in Qingdao City in eastern Shandong Province on July 2, shows the filmer known only as Wang using his fingers to gently separate the crabs that have their claws wrapped around each other, seemingly in a loving embrace. Once separated, they find their way back to each other and embrace again.

Of course, their shell does make it somewhat difficult for crabs to mate. In order to grow and increase in size, crabs have to shed their shell or exoskeleton. It is only during this molting season that most aquatic crabs can mate before their new shell hardens.

During the breeding season in spring, adult crabs release chemical scents in the water to attract potential mates. In some species, like the blue crab, it is the males that do all of the attracting. They will release pheromones and then use their claws to further fan the scent towards prospective females. With other crab species, like the Dungeness crab, it is the females that raw roaming males with their scent. It is through this scent that makes sense a female’s molt is imminent.

When they make that chemical connection, the lucky couple will engage in a premating embrace, like these two guys did. The male wraps his claws and legs around the female. Again, the ‘hug’ has a different meaning in different species. In some, the female goes into the embrace willingly. In other, it is through the ‘hug’ that the male must prove himself worthy of her eggs. Basically, if he proves himself strong enough, the female will stop struggling to get out.

They stay like this for several days, until the female molts and they finally get to mate. The males transfer their sperm by inserting his gonopods into the females’ two genital pores, called gonophores, on her underside. She then stores the sperm in a storage sac called a spermatheca until she is ready to use it. The interval between copulation and fertilization can last anywhere between a few days and a few weeks, depending on the species.

Another very peculiar fact about these crustaceans in, even though some will mate standing up and facing each other, many crab species actually prefer the missionary position, with the female underneath the male. The males will then guard the female until her shell hardens post-molting, before taking off on their next adventure.

When the eggs are fertilized, they become sticky and get caught on the bristles on mom’s belly. She carries them for several weeks until they reach the right age to detach and move on.

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