Welcome to Stop #8, our outdoor classroom, Crab Cove. Take a seat on one of the outer benches and face the mangroves. Take a deep breath. Do you smell something slightly stinky? You smell detritus.
Detritus is made up of animal scat (or poop) and all dead material that falls on the soil including; crab molts, snail shells, leaves, and sticks.
Detritus is a very important link in the marine food web. Decomposers, like snails, crabs, and shrimp eat the detritus, break it down in their guts, and then deposit fecal material into the soil. These nutrients are then taken up by the mangroves and marsh plants and used for growth.
Look down at your feet, and out into the trees. Do you notice any small holes?
The fiddler crab, one of the decomposers in the mangrove habitat lives in these small burrows. The easiest way to tell the difference between the male and the female is by the size of the claws.
Fiddler crabs are so named for the shape of the male’s single large claw. They use that large claw to fight with other males and wave to females to let them know they are ready to mate. The females have two small claws.