Yeti The White Crab – One Of The Rarest Species In The Sea

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Life is unpredictable and every day we hear about new findings, discoveries and inventions. The same incidence was happened in the Southeast Pacific in March 2005, when Biologist Cindy Van Dover unexpectedly found an unusual creature. She was diving into unexplored areas of the ocean to learn about seafloor dwelling animals when she spotted a completely white crab with long hairy arms. In this world dominated by small and big brownie crabs a completely new and unique member was added.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Later, on examining the morphology it was found that this crab was not only a new species, not only a new genera but it represents entirely a new family of crab. This crab family was given as ‘Yeti’ crab after the legendary shaggy ‘snowman’ of the Himalayas. And the first famous caught crab was preserved and stored in French National History Museum in Paris. Family name Kiwidae and genera name Kiwa’ to the species of ‘Yeti’ crab (refers to Polynesian goddess of crustaceans). First known species was Kiwa Hirsuta.

 These white crabs are habituated on seafloor near cracks in hot hydrothermal vents. These species are approximately 15 cm long and snow white crab has a huge quantity of silky blond setae or hairs covering its periopods. It cultivates gardens of bacteria on its claws then feed them. They either entirely or primarily depends on these bacteria in feeding. The ‘Yeti’ so called is due to hairy bristles that cover its long arms. Till date it remains mystery that ‘how crab uses bacteria’. Reproduction is done by relasing larvae into relatively cooler water than they live. Normally, female stops feeding and start to starve near hydrothermal vents and found dead after hatching.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

During the course of time, two more species was found belonging to yeti family in the year 2006. Kiwa Puravida was found in a geological research at the depth of 1000 meters. And it has a unique character of rhythmic dance like performance to ensure fresh O2 supply for bacteria and proper growth. In 2010 another new species, Kiwa Tyleri was found in cold waters of Antarctica. It is also known as ‘Hoff crab’ due to its differentiating character being Hairy chest.

Yeti crabs do not use sun energy or rely on photosynthetic feed. Till date we only know three members of Yeti. Due to their unique, unusual and interesting appearances people often called them as “Sublime, magical and perfect in its alien weirdness”.

the author

Santoshi Bhattarai AKA Aisha is a B.Sc in Aquaculture & Fisheries involved in social activities, research, climate actions, arts, dance & many. She aims to be involved in research in the field of Aquaculture and fisheries.