Researchers at the continental shelf, Antarctica were baffled when they encountered red-shelled flat creatures with saw-toothed arms, flanking their antennae and having a spidery body with legs as large as 1 meter (3 ft.). They bumped into an eerie and unwelcome discovery, the ‘King Crabs’ in the waters of Antarctica!
These creatures were kept out of this region for about 30 million years because of the cold Antarctic temperatures and have now started to invade the continental shelf. Their invasion has become a major cause of concern. The presence of the King Crabs can make the life on the cold Antarctic seafloor a living hell.
According to the Researchers, the King Crabs, a species scientifically known as Neolithodes yaldwyni has been acting as a destructive agent for the ecosystem.
King Crabs are skeleton-crushing predators. The presence of these hard-shelled creatures was lacking in Antarctica and it is likely that they will disturb the existence of other endemic species resulting in to a deterioration of the basic habitat structure as they will feed on the sea floor inhabitants.
One of the main reasons for the significant rise is attributed to the warming up of the Palmer Deep and Antarctic shelf waters. The native species living in this very cold environment have evolved antifreeze proteins, and that is how they have survived at subzero degrees.
The Kings Crabs are not supposed to survive in such cold conditions, as temperatures below 1°C can hamper their ability to regulate magnesium in their body fluids, leading to narcosis, paralysis of breathing and clumsiness. But, the temperatures of the water have risen one degree since 1950 that is enough for the crabs to survive.
The population of crabs is shockingly growing and it’s estimated that about 1 million crabs are currently living at depths deeper than 950m (3100ft.). Scientists predict that such colonization can have a devastating effect on the unique Antarctic fauna resulting in major ecological imbalance.
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