Research Team Led by WHOI Scientist Captures Unique Video

COURTESY OF THE WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION Researchers in the manned Deep Rover 2 during an expedition which documented swarming tuna crabs off the coast of Panama in April of 2015.

COURTESY OF THE WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION
Researchers in the manned Deep Rover 2 during an expedition which documented swarming tuna crabs off the coast of Panama in April of 2015.

WOODS HOLE – A research team led by a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist captured a unique video off the coast of Panama last April.

The researchers spotted a swarm of red crabs in low-oxygen water just above the seafloor at the Hannibal BankSeamount.

WHOI Biologist Jesús Pineda, who was the chief scientist of the biodiversity cruise, says the encounter was unexpected and mesmerizing.

The researchers’ findings were published this week in the journal “PeerJ.”

The crabs were spotted during a dive in the manned Deep Rover 2 on its last dive of the expedition.

DNA sequencing later identified the species as Pleuroncodes planipes, or tuna crabs, which are abundant off the coast of Baja California, the Gulf of California and the California Current.

The video and DNA documentation is the southernmost spotting of the species.

The crabs have been found before in low-oxygen conditions and Pineda believes these waters could provide a refuge from predators.

Seamounts are ecological “hotspots” that are home to thriving communities of unique species. Less than one percent of these underwater mountains have been studied.

A video of the swarming crabs can be found below.

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