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August 20, 2017

Grow and reproduce

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After a few dry days, today was the last dive of the expedition and Scotland has left its mark.

It is the kingdom of the crustaceans: velvet crabs, brown crabs, lobsters…we find a pair of claws guarding the entrance to almost every crack, every hole.  

The interesting thing we came across was a velvet crab in the middle of molting. The way crustaceans grow is fascinating: they shed their shell (exoskeleton) as if it were a glove. Little by little its new shell absorbs water and hardens, growing to almost twice its size.

It is a critical moment for their survival and many crustaceans die in the attempt. Surprisingly, this is the only time that some species can reproduce: the male velvet crab protects the female while she molts, waiting for its chance to mate.