If you haven't yet seen the larval stage of a porcelain crab, you've been missing out!
On 18 July, I posted a picture of an adult porcelain crab. Tonight's post features the larval swimming stage called a zoea. The larva looks nothing like the adult.
Porcelain crab zoea spend ~40 days in the plankton, molting several times before becoming a megalopa — the last larval stage before transforming into a benthic (bottom-dwelling) juvenile crab.
Note (not that you won't!) the exceptionally long inflexible spines. The forward-projecting spine is called a rostral spine. It's thought that this spine deters potential fish predators. Here's a close-up:
For scale, this zoea was ~2 cm long — remarkably long for a larval crab.
This porcelain crab zoea was collected in a plankton tow near Bodega Rock (off the southern tip of Bodega Head) on 16 July 2012.
If you were a fish, would you try to eat this larva for dinner?