Big eye, Philippines. Photo by Stephane Rochon.

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Crabs & Shrimps at Night. Part 27 of my DVD, "Reef Life of the Andaman", available at

Night diving offers the opportunity to see many crustaceans that are typically hidden in the reef during daylight, but are highly active under the hours of darkness. This video features 13 species.

At Koh Doc Mai, near Phuket in Thailand, and in the Similan Islands, we see banded coral shrimps (Stenopus hispidus) plucking plankton from the water to eat. Rock cleaner shrimp (Urocaridella sp.) are busy cleaning a large snapper and a fimbriated moray eel (Gymnothorax fimbriatus).

Space is at a premium on the reef. In the Mergui Archipelago in Burma (Myanmar) we see a fimbriated moray sharing its home with a variable coral crab (Carpilius convexus).

Female crabs carry their eggs under their apron for a few months while the embryos develop. We witness the dramatic sight of a spendid round crab (Etisus splendidus) releasing her brood. As she pumps her lower body, thousands of tiny larvae are released and drift away in the current.

At Thailand's Boonsung wreck, a crucifix crab (Charybdis (Charybdis) feriata) tries to appear as large and intimidating as possible by spreading its claws, before escaping into the shelter of the wreck, while at Western Rocky Island we see a tiny bull crab (Naxioides taurus) crawling across a gorgonian sea fan.

The flat rock crab, Percnon planissimum, is a common sight in the Andaman Sea, as is the swimming crab, Charybdis sp., which we see defending its territory by fighting off a passing common decorator crab (Schizophrys aspera). This decorator crab has large claws and covers itself with other marine organisms such as stinging hydroids for camouflage and defence. The horrid elbow crab (Daldorfia horrida) becomes completely encrusted with growth, while the spider decorator crab (Camposcia retusa) covers itself with sponges which continue to grow while on the crab, and enable it to blend in with the reef. The sponge crab, Dromia dormia, carries a large spone with its rearmost legs. We see one fling itself off the edge of the reef in an attempt to escape our lights.

Hermit crabs live inside empty snail shells in order to protect their soft abdomen. We see white-spotted hermit crabs (Dardanus megistos) in a variety of different shells. Anemone hermit crabs (Dardanus pedunculatus) carry live sea anemones on its shell as an extra defence. At Honeymoon Bay we a pair of them, perhaps in a dispute over territory.

The full narration is available as English, German or Spanish subtitles by turning on the closed captions (CC). There are also closed captions available showing scientific and common names of the marine life in English, German or Dutch, along with dive site names.

I post updates about my videos, and interesting underwater videos from other filmmakers here:

Thanks to Mark Ellison for the music track, "The Cool Of The Forest".

Thanks to Santana Diving of Phuket (, to Elfi and Uli Erfort and Daniel Bruehwiler for help with the German translation, and to Frank Nelissen for the Dutch subtitles.

Full list of marine life and dive sites featured in this video:

00:00 Banded Coral Shrimp, Stenopus hispidus, Koh Doc Mai
00:30 Emperor Red Snapper, Lutjanus sebae, Koh Doc Mai
00:45 Fimbriated Moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus, Koh Doc Mai
00:56 Fimbriated Moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus, Shark Cave
01:00 Fimbriated Moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus, Moving Wall
01:07 Fimbriated Moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus, Pinnacle Arch
01:23 Variable Coral Crab, Carpilius convexus, Pinnacle Arch
01:31 Variable Coral Crab, Carpilius convexus, Western Rocky Island
01:39 Splendid Round Crab, Etisus splendidus, Koh Tachai
02:01 Crucifix Crab, Charybdis (Charybdis) feriata, Boonsung Wreck
02:18 Bull Crab, Naxioides taurus, Western Rocky Island
02:36 Flat Rock Crab, Percnon planissimum, Snapper Alley
02:43 Swiming Crab, Charybdis sp., Koh Doc Mai
02:51 Common Decorator Crab, Schizophrys aspera, Moving Wall
03:04 Common Decorator Crab, Schizophrys aspera, Shark Cave
03:24 Horrid Elbow Crab, Daldorfia horrida, Fan Forest Pinnacle
03:34 Horrid Elbow Crab, Daldorfia horrida, Shark Cave
03:44 Spider Decorator Crab, Camposcia retusa, Western Rocky Island
03:54 Spider Decorator Crab, Camposcia retusa, Koh Tachai
04:04 Spider Decorator Crab, Camposcia retusa, Cavern Island
04:13 Sponge Crab, Dromia dormia, Western Rocky Island
04:22 Sponge Crab, Dromia dormia, Shark Cave
04:38 White-spotted Hermit Crab, Dardanus megistos, Boonsung Wreck
04:45 White-spotted Hermit Crab, Dardanus megistos, Koh Tachai
05:01 White-spotted Hermit Crab, Dardanus megistos, Eagle Rock
05:07 White-spotted Hermit Crab, Dardanus megistos, Cavern Island
05:31 Anemone Hermit Crab, Dardanus pedunculatus, Honeymoon Bay 06:33

Koh Dok Mai

As the Kittiwake hit the bottom, divers hit the water and cased her down to discover this new dive site.  You will see air still venting from the vessel as she settles down in to her new home, under the sea. 04:01

The Kittiwake
Cayman Islands


Saint Sauveur


Kreidesee Hemmoor

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