A photo of sand bubbler crabs I have taken in Lombok, Indonesia, in April 2015 has been picked by the expert panel of BMC Ecology Section Editors as one of 18 “highly commended” images chosen out of over 140 total entries.
My wife and I were in Indonesia on holidays and traveled between Bali and Lombok by scooter and public ferries. While enjoying the amazing landscape and sea view at Selong Belanak Beach, we noticed the crabs moving on the sand, and took this among other pictures.
Sand bubbler crabs live on soft shores of the tropical Indo-Pacific. They live in burrows in the sand, where they hide during high tide. During low tide, while searching the sand for food, they form characteristic sand pellets which cover the sand. They play an important ecological role as deposit feeders and bioturbators, and have been shown to affect the productivity of sandy shores. They move in large groups and scout the beach radially from their burrows, creating intricate and characteristic patterns of pellets as they proceed.
As the BMC Editors commented in their Editorial, the image illustrates well the interplay between predator, prey, and environment in a single ecosystem.
Citation and link:
Simundza J, Palmer M, Settele J, Jacobus LM, Hughes DP, Mazzi D, Blanchet S (2016) BMC Ecology Image Competition 2016: the winning images. BMC Ecology 16:1-10