​Cave crabs

A recent expedition by carcinologists to investigate the decapod crustacean diversity of Christmas Island explored accessible anchialine caves in anticipation of collecting additional material of the cave crustaceans previously reported from the island. Although, no anchialine crabs have been previously reported from Christmas Island, two new species of the genus Orcovita were discovered living sympatrically in the same caves. These crabs are the first record of this genus from the Indian Ocean and Australia.



Species of the varunid genus Orcovita are apparently anchialine cave specialists. They are always associated with anchialine habitats which usually have a good deal of freshwater input. This is a distinctive ecosystem and within the last decade at least ten new families of Crustacea have been described from these newly explored environments and they are of high conservation significance. They are very vulnerable ecosystems and, globally, are the subject of widespread conservation assessment.

Read more about Christmas Island's cave crabs in the book

"Crabs of Christmas Island" by Max Orchard

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Images by Max Orchard unless indicated otherwise