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Marine Life & Conservation

Diving with British Marine Life: the European Spider Crab

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If you’ve dived in the UK chances are you’ve encountered a European spider crab (Maja brachydactyla). While often overlooked, these crabs display a wide range of behaviours making them brilliant photography subjects and great characters to observe on a dive.

M. brachydactyla is found on the South and West Coast of England and Ireland and is the largest spider crab in the UK. European spider crabs are characterised by their red-yellow body colouration and triangular carapace bearing two distinct frontal spines between the eyes. The claws are relatively narrow with white tips, while their walking legs have dark tips.

Their carapace is covered in tiny barbs, which they use to fix an array of algae in order to ‘decorate’ a fresh moult. Such behaviour is well documented in majid crabs and helps to camouflage their bright exoskeletons. Paul Naylor, marine biologist, photographer and author of Great British Marine Animals, showcases this decorative behaviour on his Vimeo profile.

As well as actively masking their exoskeleton, spider crabs play host to a wide range of epibionts. Sessile organisms such as barnacles, anemones and tunicates settle onto their carapace in their larval stage. This relationship is known as mutualistic; the host benefits from protection from predators via camouflage, and the epibionts (an organism that lives on the surface of another organism) are exposed to sediment resuspended by the host, protection from slow moving predators, and better dispersion of offspring.

Documentary worthy aggregations of spider crabs also occur close to shore around the UK; but surprisingly these dense aggregations, also known as mounds, are driven by moulting rather than breeding. I am yet to witness this phenomenon, but look forward to the day I do!


Hear more from Georgie here: https://georgiebullphotography.home.blog/

Georgie is a Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology student at Plymouth University and an active diver in the South West of England. This year she will be completing the HSE Scuba qualification with the University in the hope that scuba will become part of her future career. She is particularly interested in native species and has a soft spot for elasmobranchs and molluscs.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Rowen Hemsley-Harding, third place winner of the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-large, chats to Rowen Hemsley-Harding, third place winner of the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition. The See you at the Sea Festival was an online film festival created by young people, for young people.

Rowan’s film – Ocean Art and Facts – can be seen here:

Fourth in a series of six videos about the competition. Watch the first video HERE with Jenn Sandiford – Youth Engagement Officer with the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust – to find out more about the Competition. Each day this week we will be sharing one video in which Jeff talks with the young contestants about their films and what inspired them.


For more information please visit:

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Marine Life & Conservation

Scuba Diving Pen Llŷn, Wales 2020 (Watch Video)

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The Welsh coast is home to a biodiverse range of species and habitats which are found within the shallows along the coast out into the open seas. Much of the coastline is accessible and can be explored with basic snorkelling gear or you can adventure deeper using scuba gear.

The coast around Pen Llŷn is no exception and provides exciting encounters with a range of marine life. Take a journey around the Pen Llŷn coast to explore the range of species which can be found on the shallow sandy shores of south Pen Llŷn to the more rugged rocky shores of the North Pen Llŷn. As darkness falls taking a dive below the waves at night to reveal more species that are often hiding away in the day and always some surprises.

Now we are into the New Year, it’s time to start planning the year ahead which involves exploring new sites and locations which hopefully brings new exciting encounters with species not seen before.


You can find out more about Dan Dŵr Cymru (Under Water Wales) and their new series that we will be showcasing in 2021 at https://dandwrcymru.wordpress.com.

Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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