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A cleaning association between the oceanic crab Planes minutus and the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta

  • John Davenport (a1)

Columbus crabs, Planes minutus (L.) (Crustacea: Brachyura) are often found on the postero-ventral surfaces of sea turtles, particularly the loggerhead Caretta caretta (L.) (Testudines: Cheloniidae). There has been a general acceptance of a hypothesis that the crabs feed upon turtle faeces. However, evidence is presented here to demonstrate that Planes has a ‘cleaning’ role, feeding on other epibionts (e.g. barnacle cyprids, parasitic amphipods) during daylight hours. At night it is likely that the crabs feed on neustonic animals (e.g. euphausids). The species is also cannibalistic.

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K.A. Bjorndal , 1980. Nutrition and grazing behaviour of the green turtle Chelonia mydas. Marine Biology, 56, 147154.

K.A. Bjorndal , 1985. Nutritional ecology of sea turtles. Copeia, 1985, 736751.

E.A. Caine , 1986. Carapace epibionts of nesting loggerhead sea turtles: Atlantic coast of U.S.A. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 95, 1526.

A.F. Carr , 1986a. Rips, FADS and little loggerheads. Bioscience, 36, 92100.

A.F. Carr , 1987. Impact of nondegradable marine debris on the ecology and survival outlook of sea turtles. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 18(6B), 352356.

F.A. Chace Jr, 1951. The oceanic crabs of the genera Planes and Pachygrapsus. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, 101, no. 3272, 65103.

R.G. Hartnoll , 1971. The occurrence, methods and significance of swimming in the Brachyura. Animal Behaviour, 19, 3450.

H. B. Hitchcock , 1941. The coloration and color changes of the gulf-weed crab, Planes minutus. Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory. Woods Hole, 80, 2630.

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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
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