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The Candy Striped Crab, discovered and documented by Ellen Muller, has been officially listed as a new species.

Those who think they have seen it all while diving on Bonaire, they need to re-think that! Talented Bonaire photographer, Ellen Muller, has another new marine species under her weightbelt, with the official recognition of Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae, or otherwise now known as the Candy Striped Hermit.

Ellen’s first new species was a nudibranch.

In August 2007, the Bonaire Insider published an article about a new nudibranch species discovered in Bonaire by Ellen which was later officially added as a new species.  The nudibranch was named Trapania bonellenae, a combination of Bonaire and Ellen.

Ellen’s latest discovery, a new crustacean.

The Candy Striped Crab is a new species found on Bonaire by Ellen Muller.

The Candy Striped Crab is a new species found on Bonaire by Ellen Muller. Pictured here with a Flaming Reef Lobster.

And now, the Candy Striped Hermit has been officially confirmed.  Ellen tell us this about her latest discovery:

On a night dive, in December of 2015, I took some photographs of a Flaming Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus antillensis). Back home, when I looked at the photos on my computer, I noticed an unusual looking, extremely small hermit crab with coloring unlike any that I had seen before. I sent the photo to a crustacean expert, Arthur Anker, who suggested that I forward the photo to Rafael Lemaitre who specializes in hermit crabs. Neither had seen anything like it but the detail in the photo was too poor to make a positive identification. I was told to try and get some better close up photos.

 

Ellen thought to herself that this would be an impossible task, akin to finding a needle in a haystack.  However, she went back to the area where she photographed the lobster, and, lo and behold, she found three of the hermit crabs and got some decent photos and she sent them back to Rafael.

His response?

“This is amazing, shows how little we know of the Caribbean. I still can’t be sure, but even with your earlier photo I had the suspicion it might be a species of Pylopaguropsis, of which several species in the Pacific have similar striking color patterns. There are 16 described species worldwide, but only one is known from the western Atlantic (and it is not that one on just color differences). The species in this genus tend to have very massive right chelipeds, with a flattened chela, much like it appears to be in the photos you just sent. All subject to confirmation by examination of specimens.”

Ellen continued with the proper protocol for confirming her new species.  After obtaining the proper paperwork, a few specimens were sent to the Smithsonian Institution, and it was confirmed that these hermit crabs are indeed a new species. For those who enjoy learning the science behind this, the scientific article can be found here.

The crab is named for her granddaughter, Molly.

As the discoverer of the new hermit crab species, Ellen gets to name it.  She has dubbed this crab Pylopaguropsis mollymullerae after her granddaughter in the hope that Molly will continue the tradition of celebrating and protecting the amazing diversity of marine life in Bonaire’s waters.

Ellen would like to give special thanks to Rafael Lemaitre, who was so enthusiastic about describing this beautiful little crab. Thanks to VIP Diving, Frank van Slobbe, Paul Hoetjes and CIEE’s Rita Peachey and Amy Wilde for their help with this new species.

Congratulations, Ellen, keep it up!  Now, divers have a new marine species to find on their next Bonaire dive trip.

(Source:  Ellen Muller, images and video by Ellen Muller)

 

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