Pregnant harlequin swimming crab (Lissocarcinus laevis), Ambon, Indonesia

Pregnant harlequin swimming crab (Lissocarcinus laevis), Ambon, Indonesia, originally uploaded by echeng.

The most well-known dive site in Ambon is called Laha. Laha is known as “Twilight Zone” by the folks who first dove it – and for good reason: its mucky slope is packed full of the strange and outrageous. When we came here in April of 2009, we enjoyed the site so much that we spent 6 full days diving its mucky slope.

The new moon is approaching, and everywhere in Ambon, animals have aggregated to spawn. In a single large hole in the reef, we saw 4 large stonefish fidgeting about with their heads nearly touching. Many of the critters we are finding down there are stuffed full of eggs. During a midnight dive last night, I spotted a pregnant harlequin swimming crab (Lissocarcinus laevis) hiding under some sort of tube anemone. After a few minutes, the crab walked out slowly from under her protective umbrella and extended her brood pouch – a sure sign that she was about to release eggs. After 4 minutes of gentle egg aeration, she sprang into the water column without warning, releasing all of her eggs in a few seconds of spastic gyration. This photo was taken moments before she released her eggs.