Every winter, in the heart of Port Phillip Bay and parts of the Great Southern Reef, a truly amazing natural phenomenon unravels: the gathering of thousands and thousands of great spider crabs. Those crabs come to the shallows together to seek safety in numbers and they are on a mission. In order to grow, they need to shed their hard shells and expand their soft flesh before hardening a new, bigger and shinier shell. Dodging hungry predators on the hunt for a soft crab at that time of year is tricky business – the best place to be is in the middle of a pile, protected by other crabs!
The spider crabs and their aggregations have been captivating people locally and internationally – Sir David Attenborough himself featured this natural wonder which happens nowhere else in the world in BBC Blue Planet II.
Would you believe that despite all this attention, we know very little about spider crab biology and ecology? Dr Elodie Camprasse and her team at Deakin University are here to change that and are using a mix of traditional and citizen science to study spider crab aggregations. Come hear what is being done to solve spider crab mysteries and how you can get involved in the research.
Dr Elodie Camprasse is a marine ecologist with a passion for scuba diving, underwater photography and science communication. Her passion for the ocean and desire to understand and protect marine life originates from her early experience of learning scuba diving as a teenager.
Elodie came to Australia about 8 years ago to do her PhD at Deakin University on seabird hunting strategies. She fell in love with Australia's biodiversity, particularly in urban areas, above and below the surface.
Elodie has a wide range of interests including human-wildlife conflicts, citizen science, nature connection and marine ecology.
She regularly takes part in outreach activities, was a finalist in Deakin University’s 3-minute thesis competition and has presented her research to the general public on several occasions on radio, at community events and through articles for The Conversation and the Yachting Times.
Previously a project manager for nature-connection charity Remember The Wild, Elodie has led projects and initiatives aimed at connecting people with the local environment and increasing appreciation and stewardship for the marine world.
Elodie now leads the implementation of the citizen science program Spider Crab Watch, and provides support to implement traditional research, to gather data on the mysterious great spider crabs and their aggregations. She is passionate about increasing the public’s awareness of the amazing biodiversity of the Great Southern Reef and filling gaps in knowledge that surrounds many of its inhabitants.