For once, large populations are not good news, because the king crabs might soon conquer Antarctica which could potentially cause dramatic disruption on the continental shelf.
- King crabs can live at temperatures of around 33oFahrenheit
- They’ve been spotted in large populations at depths between 2,800-7,500 feet
- In the upcoming decades, they might advance to shallower ends
- The king crabs will feast upon and destroy the population of soft-bodied organisms on the continental shelf
According to an international team of researchers, king crabs might soon travel further up the continental shelf, due to the warming temperatures. Climate change could soon force the crustaceans to move away from their natural habitat.
This means trouble for soft-bodies organisms making their home on the Antarctic shelf.
For millions of years, they evolved without the presence of king crabs, so their invasion would cause a drastic change in their ecosystem. The large crustaceans often use their claws to break through the shelves and feast upon the soft organisms inside who have no natural defenses, according to Richard Aronson, lead author of the study.
For now, the upper layer of the Antarctic waters are still too cold for the king crabs, but global warming might soon change that. It would draw them to the shallower end, which will wreck havoc on its ecology. This is a matter that concerns the diversity of marine communities on our planet, and how climate change is impacting the life of every being.
Recent underwater research has shown populations of king crabs just a few hundred yards further from the continental shelf of the Antarctic. If the warming of the Earth’s oceans will continue as it stands now, this will all change at some point. It will lead the king crabs further up and they will disrupt the area that has been known to host rare invertebrates.
The king crabs have also shown lately that they can be found in surprisingly large numbers, in spite of the fact that they’re widely sought after by fishermen. Between 2,800 and 7,500 feet beneath the waters, researchers found 4.5 crabs per 10,000 square feet. This is considered quite a vast population in terms of their species.
What is the unfortunate truth of the situation is that nothing stands in their way. The Antarctic continental shelf will be the perfect place for them to thrive. They will shatter the population of other soft-bodied organisms, but it will be an excellent home for their species to bloom. This will attack the diversity of local fauna.
According to chief scientist at Florida Institute of Technology, Kathryn Smith, climate change is a reality in every part of the world. It’s happening and adjustments will be seen everywhere.
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org