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These curious, burrow-dwelling crustaceans live in a variety of Queensland habitats, some common species occurring in intertidal sand and mud flats.
These are typically clawed, burrow-dwelling animals that seem to be half-shrimp and half-lobster. They belong to the Infraorders Axiidea and Gebiidea, which include 12 families with over 100 species in Australian waters. These crustaceans occur in a wide variety of habitats, from the intertidal zone to the deep sea (2,500 metres or more). Some species burrow in estuarine mud banks (like the well-known marine Yabby or Ghost Nipper), while others live commensally in sponges and coral cavities. All are expert burrowers, and rarely seen unless hunted or accidentally disturbed.
Examples within the group include:
Yabbies or Ghost Nippers burrow deep beneath intertidal sand or mud flats, so are difficult to catch. However, a yabby or bait pump can be used to extract them from beneath the muddy substrate using suction.
Large male Ghost Nippers have one greatly enlarged claw, which gives rise to the nickname.
Mud lobsters aerate the sediments while burrowing, and their feeding actions help recycle nutrients. Their burrows also provide homes for other small creatures.
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