Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 161–162 | Cite as

Hyas spp. crabs and sea anemones—new species associations from Svalbard

  • Piotr BalazyEmail author
  • Piotr Kuklinski
  • Nadya Sanamyan
Open Access


Specific Occasion Species Association Rocky Bottom Svalbard Archipelago Underwater Observation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
In the literature, there is a large amount of evidence on mutual and commensal associations between actiniarians and decapods (see Ross 1983 and references therein). Among all these studies, only Davenport (1962) and Schrieken (1965) dealt with Hyas spp. Their work, however, was performed in aquaria and concerned only young crab individuals (Davenport 1962) and a single sea anemone species—Tealia felina (Linnaeus, 1767) (= Urticina felina) (Davenport 1962; Schrieken 1965). Here, we describe the association of mature H. araneus (Linnaeus, 1758) and H. coarctatus Leach, 1816 with Cribrinopsis similis Carlgren, 1921, Hormathia nodosa (Fabricius, 1780) and Urticina crassicornis (O.F. Mueller, 1776), which to our knowledge are reported for the first time. The associations were recorded during the summers of 2011 and 2012 on the rocky bottom of an Arctic fjord—Isfjord (Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard Archipelago) at 10–15 m depth. Direct underwater observations (Fig. 1a–h) indicate that the crabs were in contact with sea anemones for several minutes. When approached by a diver, the crabs did not escape from the anemone but got closer to it. On one specific occasion, removing the rock, marked in Fig. 1g with an arrow, revealed a large (∼5 cm diameter of the pedal disc) specimen of C. similis attached to the crab by its verrucae (Fig. 1h).
Fig. 1

A subset of pictures showing Hyas coarctatus (a, b, e, f), H. araneus (c, d, h) and Hormathia nodosa (a), Uriticina crassicornis (b, c, d), and Cribrinopsis similis (e, f) before removing the stone (g) and after (h)

Although sufficiently large sea anemones such as Urticina sp. have occasionally been noted in the past to feed on these crabs in this area (Gulliksen and Svensen 2004), it seems instead that the crabs, while avoiding contact with the tentacles, are searching for protection from predators (e.g. bottom-dwelling fish, octopus) as previously reported for other decapods, including those closely related to Hyas spp. (Ross 1983). More studies are needed to verify and confirm whether these associations have just a short-term facultative commensalistic character.



Agnieszka Kostrzynska and Michal Saniewski for underwater assistance, Tomasz Borszcz for surface support and Joanna Legezynska for valuable discussion. The study has been completed thanks to grant (DEC-2011/01/N/NZ8/04493) from the National Science Centre which provided financial support to PB.


  1. Davenport D (1962) Physiological notes on actinians and their associated commensals. Bull Inst Ocenaogr Monaco 1237:1–15Google Scholar
  2. Gulliksen B, Svensen E (2004) Svalbard and life in polar oceans. Kom, KristiansundGoogle Scholar
  3. Ross DM (1983) Symbiotic relations. In: Abele LG (ed) The biology of Crustacea, Vol. 7. Academic, New York, pp 163–212Google Scholar
  4. Schrieken B (1965) Spinkrabben en zeeanemonenen. Levende Natuur 58:276–279Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Ecology Department, Institute of OceanologyPolish Academy of SciencesSopotPoland
  2. 2.Kamchatka Branch of Pacific Geographical InstituteFar-Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesPetropavlovsk-KamchatskyRussia

Personalised recommendations