Orangutan of the Sea
20th edition of Marine Life monthly post. Marine Life post published every 19th of the month. It aims to share information on marine life species and to promote their conservation.
The word of orangutan comes from the Malay/Indonesian word that means “man of the forest.” The name was given to a monkey species Pongo pygmaeus, a native animal of the Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests. The orangutan monkey is an endangered species; it is also well known for its intelligence, strong arms and its bulky body covered by reddish-brown hair.
The orangutan crab (Achaeus japonicus) that lives in the sea is neither family nor relative of the monkey. Obviously. The crab is called as orangutan crab because it has the same reddish-brown hairs all over its body making him look like a tiny orangutan who lives in the sea.
The hairs are its tool to eat, helping the crab to catch the planktons. The orangutan crab can be found at the depths from 5 to 20 meters. However, with its one to two cm length of size, we have to look carefully to find this crab.
The crab lives in the bubble corals or anemones of the warm waters of the Western Indo-Pacific Ocean. As a spider crab, the orangutan crab can easily hide from its predators by hiding in between of the bubble corals. My first encounter with orangutan crab was in Bunaken (North Sulawesi, Indonesia). I was surprised to see how tiny the crab was. Not only that, the crab was very shy, and it was very quickly in hiding in between the bubble corals. My next encounter was during my dives in Komodo (Flores, Indonesia). In Komodo, the orangutan crabs did not seem to live alone. We saw two or three of orangutan crabs with different sizes at their homes in the bubble corals.
Orangutan crab is as unique as the endangered orangutan monkey who live in the rainforest. While the orangutan crab is not considered as an endangered marine animal, but with the coral bleaching due to the climate change and overfishing for the sake of human consumption, I do hope its fate will not end as an endangered animal just like the Orangutan in the rainforest.
Celebrating Endangered Species Day, May 20th
Related previous post: Nine Endangered Marine Species