Ningaloo crabs off to Florida for analysis and barcoding


Rob Lasley on the beach
Image: Gary Cranitch

 

By Angus Livingston
 
Monday 1 June 2009
 
SOME of the most interesting specimens collected here at Ningaloo have been safely tucked away in the dive bag of Rob Lasley.
 
Rob, from the Florida Museum of Natural History, is here at Ningaloo working on crustaceans – specifically crabs.
 
There have been the Liomera and Neoliomera: small but brightly coloured red, orange and purple crabs. Or the calappidae, the crab that looks like a stone and has "can opener" claws that tuck underneath it. Or even the large ghost crabs that run around on the beach metres from the makeshift lab in the shearing shed.
 
Rob has found a large and diverse supply of crabs in the two weeks he's been at Ningaloo.
 
"We went out to an exposed shelf on the reef and they were all over. That was a good spot," he said.
 
"And I found a bunch under some rocks."
 
Most exciting for him, he found three species of chlorodiella, the genus he's focusing on.
 
Rob will start his PhD in Singapore in July, but before that he has to send his samples to Florida.
 
He is working with Francois Michonneau on a project to map the biodiversity of the Indo-Pacific.
 
Between them they've collected 971 samples so far, with more on the way.
 
Eventually the marine organisms they collect here will have their DNA analysed and barcoded.