The Common Edible Crab, Cancer pagurus Linnaeus, is a familar enough sight with its pink oval-shaped shell with the pie-crust edging. However, if you take a really close look you will discover that the surface has a most interesting natural pattern and texture. It is covered with thousands and thousands of tiny white bumps or tubercles.
Sometimes the crab is further decorated by encrusting animals (known as epibionts) which attach themselves to the shells of both living and dead crabs – and lots of other seashore creatures and objects too. In the pictures just above and below you can see a crab in which the carapace is thickly covered with the white calcareous tubes occupied by the marine bristle worm Pomatoceros triqueter. The second crab that I spotted on the same day had very few tubes on its shell and the grainy surface is clearly visible.
Revision of a post first published 20 May 2010
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011
All Rights Reserved