The squat lobster Eumunida picta got its name “picta,” meaning “painted” from its bright colors. This squat lobster usually lives among hard coral colonies, but this fellow has wandered away into a crack. It looks like he’s fishing, but squat lobsters are just too slow to catch anything as agile as a fish. They usually eat small marine worms or crustaceans or scavenge on dead animals. Probably what is going on is that the squat lobster is trying to get the fish to go away.
Notice those long, waving, whip-like antennae. Squat lobsters and other related crustacean families use those antennae somewhat like cat whiskers, to locate objects and especially to maintain individual distance – the space between one squat lobster and another.
Other squat lobster species that live among larger corals or feather stars may steal some of the protective slime from a coral and eat it, but they will try to warn off intruders on “their” coral by spreading those pincers. (We don’t know if this squat lobster does that).
Text contributed by Mary Wicksten, Texas A&M University