People and Places
01/08/2018
Crab-grabbing Crystal and the dancing seahorses By Kate Sears

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Now, meet Crystal. She is an extremely rare albino smooth ray. Jules captured wonderful footage of her eating spider crabs as they began moulting, sucking them up and munching on them the moment they shed their shell. This footage was passed on by her content manager, Storyful, and it made its way to National Geographic. Her dive buddy noticed Crystal while they were watching the spider crabs three years ago. She’s a shy creature who only appears at this time of year, and Jules was able to spend 30 minutes with her. At first Crystal wasn’t sure how to handle this lady with her camera watching her eat, and would swim away. But when she realised Jules wasn’t pursuing her, Crystal’s inquisitive nature — and, presumably, her appetite — got the better of her and she’d come swimming back. “She became so chilled out and relaxed,” said Jules. “She was extremely timid at the start.”

Now, we females all know and adore the baby-carrying male seahorse because he’s the most considerate partner out there, right? But did you know that the ‘love dance’ is rarely caught on camera? Jules has captured the moment not once but twice, when the male puffs out his belly to show the female that he’s the most suitable carrier of her eggs. His colouring then changes as they dance around each other. This has been photographed before, but the transfer of eggs to the male is much harder to find and capture. “I watched the seahorses for 20 minutes; my camera battery even went dead in the end but I got it,” said Jules. “When they pass the eggs they rise to the surface slowly. The male will carry the eggs to term, which is normally about three to four weeks.

Jules has recently also witnessed cuttlefish mating, Port Jackson sharks swimming near the pier, and the biggest stingrays she’s ever seen. But that’s a story for another day in the octopus’s garden under the sea.

 

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