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forever in waking hours on the alert, nippers is powerful. I have known and only use the sands or mud for them hold on to the lifting of over rest, protection and the final acts of eighty times their own weight. procreation.
But notwithstanding this strength Let us consider again their general and courage, they know yell the diffihabits in the open sea. Beside being culty there is in living near the shore, scavengers of the shore, they prey upon with the sea-birds, man and an army every living organism near them; and of rats as their inveterate enemies. as they can see just as well out of Moreover, in the great light of our shalwater as in it, they will sometimes low seas, their chief trouble is in getcrawl short distances out of the sea to ting any kind of living food. Hence secure some dainty food; and on sea the whole race, with more than human beaches, when hunger presses them tenacity, cling to mimicry as the sheethard, they will even come above the anchor of life; and when many of its waves at high water and hunt after the varied forms of deception fail, they sand-hoppers there.
have no hesitation in simulating death, These anxious business habits are as will be seen as I proceed. On the very attractive to the children of the coasts of Cornwall, near Mevagissey, coasts, who often receive their first the powdered white sea-shells mixed fishing lessons in the capture of these with the broken mica-schist rocks give little sinners, with thread and pin hook us a brown sand. These are often interIt is said that rats fish for them in the spersed with white markings from same way, using their own tails as quartz pebbles; hence the first act of lines and bait. of this, I think, there many young crabs here in the spring can be no doubt, the great hunting is to color their carapace brown with ground of the rats throughout the sum white spots. mer and autumn being the coast-line On Portmelon beach, where the brown of the sea, and their quarry chiefly sands and the white shingle mix freely these crabs. "Mevagissey old pier was together, I have seen crabs up to an built without lime, and it is not un- inch and a half across the back with common to see rats, between high and these white markings prominent, wherelow water, hunting through this struc- as the same sized crabs in Mevagissey ture for these invertebrata. On one pier on the black mud assume a dark occasion I saw a rat with its hinder green, approaching an almost pitchy parts sodden with water, while the tip hue; while on the open coasts in the of its tail was quite white, as if it had summer months, between high and orjust been used as a bait.
dinary low water, the principal color is These shore crabs, although less than green, because of the preponderance of three ounces in weight and their cara green sea-weeds there. This, however, pace seldom stretching to three inches, is modified into light and dark hues by when cornered in difficulties will face the presence of dark mud and stones or any enemy, however large. Possibly light sands and shells. In all these these fighting proclivities may have shades the crabs imitate their environbeen intensified by the fact that from ments, even to giving the white patch the first dawn of existence they have on their carapace a greenish tinge, never had any kind of maternal or pa- especially in the pools, where it either rental assistance, having had to fight the hides them from their enemies or gives battle of life alone. The grip of their them better opportunities of pouncing
on living food; whereas at extreme 8 On many parts of the coast they are called by low water, in their chosen retreats unthis name.
der the stones, where coral and worm at once, and they came up to him with life give a red hue to their surround- extended antennæ,' and either touched ings, the males and some females dress or smelt his nippers, and quickly passed the whole of their exposed parts in a by on the other side. This was done red color, and even the brown back again and again, but he stood like a which is mostly hidden, has a red tinge. statue under their scrutiny. At last
Their feigning death is often seen one of the prawns seemed to come a after a fight or a struggle for life in little nearer than the others, and the which they have been badly worsted. final rush and nip were given, but This often happens when, after being without effect, for the feelers were caught in a shore seine, all their efforts quickly withdrawn, and with a flip of to escape have failed, and they are the tail the creature was out of reach. drawn in on the beach. Then their sim But although unsuccessful, the crab ulation of the end is almost perfect was not without further resources. His This is also seen when they are fight next move was to look around the track ing with the human hand and are over a little, and soon he found some green come. Then the assumption of death sea-weeds near. These he touched up is their final act; sometimes it takes the lightly, and after moving them a little form of rigidity of limbs, as if they more to the centre, he quietly got into were dying in a fit, and at other times the middle of them, and again stood a rag-like limpness as if life were gone. up with extended claws and open nip
To show that these creatures have pers. Here the green crab, in these an innate desire for this kind of trick- green garments, was fairly hidden. éry, let me describe half an hour in Quickly but cautiously again came on the life of one of them.
Soon their antennæ Some time ago I was waiting for the struck his open nippers in the weeds, tide to come into a neighboring harbor, and again in cautious haste they moved and with its advances I noticed that away. quantities of young prawns were anx Patience is said to be a virtue, and ious to explore its mud and sea-weed, if it is so, this little crab had a good and that in the long furrow made by share of it, for more than a score of the last ship's keel, these active creatures these prawns touched his nippers in the came along by the score. Many had weeds, and went their way without not passed in before Carcinus menas coming within gripping distance of the came to the front, out of the mud. At silent watcher. once he showed me he had a design At last his virtuous feelings became on the life of these prawns, for he exhausted, and he rushed with violence quietly crept into the keel-mark and on his wary neighbors, but without efstood across their track with extended fect, for, with a swift move of their claws and open nippers; and in his tails, they were out of danger. But the green-gray form, covered with dirt and crab's artifice was not yet ended. After mud, he could scarcely be seen on the taking a little rest (for now his arms sea bottom. Here he waited to grapple must have been as weary as those of with the first comer. But wariness the disobedient schoolboy after the barely expresses the watchful care of punishment of holding out his book) these prawns, for the crab was noted he began to search for a soft place on
• Professor Milne Edwards regards the inner tennae, we are led to belleve from the actions pair of antennae, in crabs generally, as organs of of these creatures that the third and longer pair smell, and the outer and longer pair as organs are organs of feeling, and, to some extent, of bearing. As prawns have three pairs of an answer the purpose of the human hand.
the bottom away from the weeds, and, kill the great crab, Cancer pagurus, a having succeeded, much to my surprise, creature which is nearly one hundred he began an unexpected caper. After times their own weight, and which, if working his claws and tail violently it could get hold of them, would grind for some time we saw his purpose, for them to powder; but theirs is only an. in this clear water he made a thick other simile of Man and the Whale, as mud-cloud over six inches high and may be seen at any time under certain four or five inches wide. Instantly he conditions. got into the middle of it, and there he It is customary, when fishing for stood with outstretched arms, hoping great crabs, for the fishermen to deliver and waiting for the coming of the them to buyers about once in the week. prawns. But they seemed aware of his During the interval the crabs are présence, and appeared to know that generally kept in a large wicker store tricks like this had been played before at the bottom of the sea. If it is sandy for the capture of prawns; for they ap- there, they are safe from most enemies; proached cautiously with extended but if the bottom is rough, these pertifeelers, and, after probing the cloud nent rascals are sure to be found there, for a time, evidently found their enemy, and woe betide Cancer pagurus, for, and quickly passed on without entering when night comes, they will instantly the trap.
attack him in the eyes, and so active Soon the cloud subsided, and the crab and constant are they that the great again appeared, and dimly seeing the crab has no chance with them; finally, retreating forms of the prawns, darted they will actually eat his eyes out, and after them, but again without success. death will ensue. What follows may These efforts seemed to be too much be easily guessed. A dead lion is not for the poor hungry one, who soon re a more welcome treat to the jackal of treated to his old cover.
the desert than a large crab is to this We may next consider Portunus fraternity. puber, or the
When last at Polperro I noticed that
the fishermen were forced to float their VELVET SWIMMING CRAB.
crab stores in the surface of the sea These live in the sea, close on the to avoid these pests. At Mevagissey outside of Carcinus mænas, and, being the fishermen are obliged to do the night feeders, commit all their depre same. dations on their neighbors in the dark. By day the velvet swimming crabs
Full-grown specimens are seldom live in the shelter of the rocks and above three inches across the back. under loose stones, but with night they They are rarely found inside ordinary explore the whole neighborhood, and low water spring tides or beyond half when the occasion offers, they are vioa mile from shore.
lent and savage hunters. If food is They are the most fierce and cruel of scarce they delight in the crab and all the smaller crabs; and, with their lobster pots of the fishermen, where red eyes, quick sight and red and blue they can have abundance of rough matmarkings, impress most of the young ter for the effort of eating it; but they fisher-folk with the fear that there is are sure to be up and away (escaping poison in their bite. Hence their com between the rods) before the morning mon name is the stinging crab; but light, ere the fisherman comes to see their nip will lacerate delicate hands the night's results, for they are equal only. Yet they are desperate charac- to almost any emergency in fighting ters, and do not hesitate to attack and life's battle.
Gosse kept a specimen of these crea and is used more as a mask to protect tures in his aquarium; and describes them when resting by day than as a him as “a fit representative of those shield in the darkness, for this in their giants that nursery tradition tells of working hours must generally cover as infesting Cambria and Cornwall in them. Good King Arthur's days. Gloomy, Its first phase is seen in some of the grim, strong, ferocious, crafty and younger crabs, which sometimes vencruel, he would squat in his obscure ture a little above low water spring lair watching for the unsuspecting deni- tides in company with Carcinus maenas. zens of the tank to stray near; or would These put on an indefinite brownish now and again rush out and seize them hue, blending well with the color of with fatal precision. As the Giant their neighbors; no pink or blue shades Grim of old spared not ordinary-sized are seen, and even their eyes lack the men for any sympathy of race, so our pertinent red lustre seen in their felgiant crab had no respect for lesser lows of the same size lying further out, crabs, except a taste for their flesh. where other hues preponderate. This was torn off and eaten wito gusto, The larger forms, found under the while the rest of the animal was stones at extreme low water, where wrenched limb from limb with savage zoophytes and other life give a pinkish wantonness, and the fragments scat- hue to their cover, and where dark tered in front of his cave."
pebbles with a blue shade cover the Their enemies are probably the nurse- bottom, color all their joints and interhound of Couch, the Great Northern stices red, and their claws black or diver, which I have seen feeding on blue. them for months together, and also the The whole body has a plush covering otter. The evidence of the latter being of a velvet consistence which gives the in this list came in rather an indirect crab its name. This, to suit their enmanner. I once kept two young otters, vironment, can be modified into light and on being fed with ordinary fresh drab or brown, and when darker colors fish they gave me no little anxiety, are still wanting the plush is often for they did not thrive nor relish their rubbed off the back in places, showing food satisfactorily. In considering the their dark form and giving them a color habits and life history of their parents, suitable to their surroundings. it struck me that they must certainly But their greatest mimicry seems to come in contact with our shore crabs, be on the first sight of the human form. and possibly eat them, or give them as No doubt they are much frightened at food to their young. In trying the ex the appearance of this burly, beak. periment with a batch (among them faced, glaring animal, a creature more was the Portunus) which I presented than a thousand times their size and to these youngsters, the sight was some with incomprehensible strength. thing to be remembered, for they al A malformed giant visiting the earth most jumped out of the barrel to secure from one of the planets could not be them and ate them in a few seconds. more terrifying to us than man seems With this change of food I had no more to be to these creatures. Their first act trouble with my charge, and I think is to fight him or feign death in his this is fair evidence that the otter is an presence. I have more than once enemy of Portunus puber.
watched their actions when a large Their mimicry is seen in many forms, stone had been quietly lifted off their
resting place. Instantly they are either • See Gosse's Aquarium, D. 198; also White's glaring at the intruder with their nipBritish Crustacea, p. 48.
pers up for a fight, or they lie as quiet climatic causes, as the Land's End and as the pebbles around them without Scilly Isles on the one hand and the moving a muscle. If taken in the shores of the English Channel on the hand they will sometimes allow their other ought to have a water temperaclaws to be placed in any form without ture not much unlike this district. Nor resistance, and even if put on the can it be from the nature of the sea beach will keep their claws in the same bottom, for rough grounds suitable for form, for a considerable time, as these creatures exist both to the east if they were really dead among and the west of this Land of the the weeds; and yet all the while, from Giants. the angle of their eyes, it can be seen The facts point to some kind of food that they are intently watching their as being the cause of the massive size visitor.
of these creatures; and, therefore, I The females in this species, unlike think it would be worth while for some most other crabs, are about the same county council, or even the Governsize as the males, and the propagation ment, to send an expert to look up of the race is continued much on the this question. If the real tid-bits cansame lines as that of the shore crab, not be discovered, there is the crossing only in a little deeper water; the males of the breeds to fall back on; and if visiting the females in their sheltered results come out as some other mixing homes and protecting them from their of superior with inferior races has enemies when passing thfough the done, an incalculable benefit will be weakness and utter helplessness of ex- conferred on the crab fisheries of Brituviation.
ain. I will now consider the habits and Like crabs generally, the great crab mimicry of Cancer pagurus, or the is fond of secrecy, and, being a night
feeder, it usually hides in caverns and GREAT CRAB.
crevices or under the sands by day, Although this creature is found every- and hunts or lies in wait for its prey where on the rough sea bottom near by night. Not being nimble in its move. the British Isles, it is a question if such ments, its captures are achieved more extremes of matured life can be found by feats of strategy and cunning than connected with any animal forms with- by activity. Its powers of smell and out an apparent cause, for here we have eyesight are fairly good, and it prefers dwarf and colossal life on the broadest fresh, red-colored fish as food, such as lines yearly perpetuated as extremes the red gurnard, red mullets and bream, of the race.
or the strongly perfumed flesh of the I have been led to believe that the whitehound shark. Evidently one of finest crabs exist between Dartmouth its habits when on the war-path is to in Devon and the Lizard headland in stand quiet in the night with extended Cornwall, where males are often known arms and open nippers, in the shadow to reach thirteen and fourteen pounds of some great rock or group of tall weight, and where they are only called sea-weeds, and then grip at all comers. half-crabs when under eight inches If this scheme fails, it seeks the sands across the back; whereas on most other and buries itself there, with the excepparts of the British Isles crabs two or tion of its eyes and the tips of its nipthree pounds weight and six or seven pers; here it awaits the moving of soles, inches across the back are considered plaice and other sand-wandering life. large. It would be interesting to know That these crabs are apt at this work, why this is. It can scarcely be from may be seen on their first capture by
LIVING AGE. VOL, VIII. 399