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If you’ve been to an aquarium or the sea shore, you might have seen the spiny, colorful little creatures called sea urchins. But you’ve probably never seen them do this, in this viral video on YouTube will will see something really unusual:
Crazy, right? But don’t throw out everything you thought you knew about sea urchins just yet. This isn’t a sea urchin’s secret form: the alien-looking creature you see scampering across the ocean floor in the video is actually a crab! In fact, it’s called a carrier crab or urchin crab — and it’s easy to see why!
Carrier crabs are brownish-pink crustaceans that live in the warm waters of the red sea and the Indian Ocean. Like the name suggests, it can often be found shuttling a sea urchin around on its back. It uses the long hollow spines of the urchin like a spiky shield to ward off predators and curious photographers like the one who snapped this viral youtube video.
Don’t worry, the urchin gets something out of the relationship too! Urchins can move on their own, but only very slowly. By partnering up with a carrying crab, they are moved around to new feeding grounds. Think of it like taking the bus instead of walking to the grocery store. Scientists have observed a variety of species of urchin being carried like this, even from species who could sting the crab with poisonous spines if they wanted to. It seems like they’re more than happy to hitch a ride!
The ocean hides all kinds of surprising and unusual things, and this type of symbiotic relationship is surprisingly common beneath the waves. Clownfish seek shelter in the poisonous tentacles of sea anemone, cleaning wrasse fish pick food from the jaws of moray eels, and coral shrimp clean bugs and parasites from the colorful scales of fish.
What’s the wildest animal partnership you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments!
Watch the viral video here: