Even though they don’t have fins, crabs play an important role in the fisheries. As I was looking for something to report on, I spotted an article with a title that peaked my interest. The article explained that the female blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay have a produce a hormone in their eyestalks that aid in reproductive growth and development. This is a unique finding, because it is the first time that a sex hormone has ever been observed in female crustaceans specifically.
This hormone is very important because it affects the maternal instincts of the blue crab, and aids in brooding and mating. Obviously, this is an extremely important thing for the crab to develop, in order to continue the survival and fitness of the species. What interested me most thought, was the fact that this hormone is produced in the eyestalks. Eyes are clearly important for survival because they help the crab see where food is and if there are predators. But now, they have an even greater importance. They hold the hormone for maternal instinct.
Does this fact make the crab instinctively be more protective of their eyes than they would be of some other appendage? In some species, eyes are useless and therefore disappear over time. But for these female blue crabs, the eyes are now incredibly important. Will this cause female crabs to develop stronger eyestalks than males? Or will they develop more protective mechanisms to guard their eyes? Only time will tell how these crabs will evolve to improve their fitness. In the meantime, it is fascinating to think about, and to realize how different species all have different reproductive mechanisms that sound so foreign to us as humans.