A Red Sea Depth Record of the Coral-Dwelling Crab Opecarcinus (Decapoda: Cryptochiridae) in the Mesophotic Zone

Silvia Vimercati*, Sancia E.T. van der Meij, Tullia I. Terraneo, Giovanni Chimienti, Fabio Marchese, Ameer A. Eweida, Sam J. Purkis, Mattie Rodrigue, Francesca Benzoni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Coral-dwelling gall crabs (Cryptochiridae) are obligate symbionts of stony corals and occur on shallow and deep reefs across the tropical belt. The circumtropical genus Opecarcinus associates with Agariciidae corals, a dominant component of Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs). Here, we report the first Red Sea mesophotic record, with 89 m as the deepest record to date, for Opecarcinus—collected from Leptoseris cf mycetoseroides—from the NEOM marine area in Saudi Arabia. This observation reconfirms the depth range flexibility of Opecarcinus species and highlights the need for further mesophotic explorations of reef-associated fauna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number723
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research expedition was funded by NEOM. The material and KAUST team logistics and molecular analyses were supported by KAUST (award FCC/1/1973-50-01 and baseline research funds to F. Benzoni). G. Chimienti was supported by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (PON 2014–2020, Grant AIM 1807508-1, Linea 1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • coral symbionts
  • Crustacea
  • distribution record
  • gall crabs
  • Mesophotic Coral Ecosystem (MCE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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