Danny Stephenson

My Edmonds News is publishing regular stories and photos from the Edmonds Underwater Park, with options penned by associates of the youth Dive Workforce led by Annie Crawley, Edmonds underwater photographer, filmmaker, author and ocean advocate.

Standing on the shoreline at Brackett’s Landing North in Edmonds, you are surrounded by gentle sand, easy rocks, sculpted driftwood, and shimmering seawater. Website visitors chatter excitedly as they wander by the water, and the air is sweet with salt. We are blessed to dwell in the Pacific Northwest with astounding shorelines and scenery. Just under the surface of Edmonds Underwater Park lies a entire distinct globe.

My identify is Danny and I am 14 decades aged. When I commenced scuba diving, I had no concept how it would modify my lifestyle. I am fascinated by the several creatures that make their households in the h2o, several of which I would not have acknowledged about if I did not dive. From land, our interactions with the maritime environment are limited as opposed to when we go underwater scuba diving. Diving has opened my eyes to this thoroughly unique underwater earth. Through my frequent diving at Edmonds Underwater Park, which is like my personal underwater yard, I have developed a special desire in studying crabs.

At Edmonds Underwater Park, we see around 12 unique crab species. Some of my favorites consist of purple rock crabs with two large crushing claws and decorator crabs that disguise by themselves with algae, barnacles, and even tunicates. Crabs look like aliens from outer room. Crabs are arthropods, which implies they are an invertebrate animal with an exoskeleton which signifies their skeleton is outside their entire body. They also have a segmented entire body with 4 pairs of jointed legs that allow them to move swiftly through the h2o. For example, if you get too near to a crab, it will frequently scurry absent sideways. All crabs have just one pair of pinchers or claws that they use for a variety of causes: to feed, decorate, or protect by themselves. Having said that, it is not uncommon to see a crab with only a person or even no claws since they had been torn off in a fight, but they are able to rejuvenate these as they improve.

When I dive, I uncover crabs crawling together rocks, kelp, and sand. They are all different styles, measurements, and shades. Due to the fact I began studying underwater images, I have grow to be a lot more observant of animal actions and way of life. Most of the crabs in the Salish Sea hatch from eggs. Following hatching, the crabs convert into a larva form named zoea. Whilst in this phase, the zoea are about 1 millimeter in dimension and barely able to swim. Zoea live suspended in the water as plankton. When the crabs grow to the measurement of a penny they improve. The crabs carry on to expand. As they come to be juveniles, they settle from the drinking water column onto the reef. Some juvenile crabs request protection and a free of charge journey on egg yolk jellies. Grownup crabs take in clams, mussels, other crustaceans, and small fish. They dig eel grass roots and feed on other lifeless animals.

Crabs have an primarily fascinating growth method identified as molting. A crab’s entire body grows but its exoskeleton does not. During molting, the crab’s exoskeleton separates from the new just one that grows beneath it. The new exoskeleton absorbs water and becomes larger, pushing absent the outermost exoskeleton. This brings about a break up at their molt line on the crabs’ bellies. The new and extremely tender crab now has the versatility to back out of its aged shell. Juvenile crabs can molt up to 6 moments a calendar year. All through the molting method, crabs are very vulnerable to predators mainly because their soft shell features restricted safety. The most important crab in the Northwest, the Puget Sound king crab, can increase up to 30 centimeters huge!  Not all crabs molt, nonetheless, and some continue being in the very same exoskeleton for their entire adult life.

Most people today are acquainted with crabs like the Dungeness or crimson rock crabs since people catch them in pots or acquire in their regional grocery retail outlet. These species are commercially significant, but are threatened by the changing weather, ocean acidification, and overfishing. Make sure you continue to keep in thoughts that Edmonds Underwater Park is a maritime reserve and shielded area so fishing and crabbing are not authorized.

Crabs are under critical threat from ocean acidification, which is the result of too a great deal carbon in the ambiance. When we burn off fossil fuels, we deliver carbon dioxide into the ambiance. The gasoline dissolves into the ocean and undergoes a chemical reaction with seawater, forming an acid. The acid releases hydrogen ions, which zip close to in the h2o and like to bond with molecules these kinds of as carbonate. However, crabs and other shellfish require carbon to create their shells (calcium carbonate). When hydrogen bonds to carbonate, it varieties one more acid and shell-building creatures can no longer use it. The loss of carbonate in the water is earning it tough to these animals to establish their really hard shells, and they are struggling. For illustration, crabs have softer shells making them extra vulnerable to ailment. The acidic h2o also affects the crabs’ sensory organs and larval enhancement.

In addition to being commercially significant for people, crabs participate in an important role in the ecosystem by recycling nutrition. As scavengers, crabs try to eat dead and decaying content, and change it back into usable organic matter for the ecosystem. Biodiversity is vital to the ecosystem, as well, and by owning additional distinctive species existing, the ecosystem is a lot more resistant to destruction. We have in no way noticed an adult Puget Sound king crab at Edmonds, but we have observed juveniles. As juveniles they are smaller sized than your toddler fingernail. As grown ups they improve, becoming extremely strong and multi-colored pink, orange, and blue. Surprisingly, they blend in nicely with their ecosystem. With their huge and gradual-shifting bodies, Puget Audio king crabs are victims of fishing bycatch and their populations have experienced immensely.


I enjoy seeing all of these species of crabs at Edmonds Underwater Park, furthermore a lot of other fascinating and intriguing creatures. Edmonds Underwater Park is our backyard. We need to have to shield this area so we can carry on to delight in the amazing lifestyle that life below. With thousands and thousands of interesting issues to discover, occur rejoice the 50th anniversary of the dive park with us, and discover anything new on each individual adventure!

— By Danny Stephenson

Danny Stephenson life in Lake Forest Park and is an eighth grader at Kellogg Middle School in Shoreline. He started diving in 2019 and is currently a PADI Superior Open up Water Diver, working to learn his underwater photography skills. He loves to shoot photos of crabs and anything macro. You can uncover Danny swimming by way of the plumose sea anemones that deal with the De Lion Drydock, his preferred location, or observing the lingcod all over the Lopez Pontoon.


By Harmony