BOXER CRAB or POM POM CRAB (Lybia edmondsoni) - ©Dave Harasti
Lybia are notable for their mutualism allowing stinging sea anemones, to grow on their claws for defense. In return, the anemones find new places to eat and mate.
Boxer crabs use at least three different species of anemones, including stinging sea anemone. The bonding with the anemone is not required for survival, however, and boxer crabs have frequently been known to live without them, sometimes substituting other organisms such as sponges and corals.
The common name “pom-pom crab” comes from its symbiotic practice of brandishing a stinging sea anemone (usually Triactis producta) in each claw to defend against predators and possibly to stun prey. Its alternate common name, “boxer crab”, comes from its pugnacious attitude to threats.
If one anemone is lost, the crab can divide the other in two, forcing each half to regenerate
Its Hawaiian name is kūmimi pua, or “inedible flower crab”. In ancient times, this animal was used by sorcerors.
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