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Coral reefs are home to many different crustaceans.

Do you know what a crustacean is?

You might not have heard the name before, but you’ve probably seen lots of crustaceans, or maybe even eaten one! The most familiar crustaceans are lobster, crab and shrimp.

Velvet Crab
Taken by Kieran Boyce, Dublin University Sub-Aqua Club

Crustaceans have a very hard shell around their body. This helps to protect them from animals that are hunting for food. If you see a crustacean up close, you will notice long, slim antennae reaching out from its head. These antennae are very sensitive and help the animal sense danger.

Lobster cartoon

A lot of crustaceans also have claws that help when eating and when crawling or swimming e.g. lobsters and crabs have claws.

As the animal grows, its shell becomes too small, just like when you grow your clothes become too small. Crustaceans shed their shell and must wait for a new, bigger shell to grow. This can be dangerous for them and they have no protection from hunters or predators. In the coral reefs, they can hide beneath the corals or in cracks between rocks, so coral reefs really are great habitats for crustaceans.