Crab Hacker Barnacle
- Group: Sacculina carcini
With a name like the “crab hacker barnacle,” this specific parasite species must have a thing for crabs, right? Typically, it attaches to the green crab found all across Western Europe & North Africa. Most of the time when humans find a crab with this parasite, we tend to see it show up in the abdomen of the crab. By this point, it is usually too late to save the crab and certainly does not make it worth eating. A female crab hacker usually finds a crab host and will try to avoid any issues at first by crawling across the surface of the crab’s base. Since crabs are built pretty tough, the barnacle cannot get inside in its original form. It will transform into kentrogen.
This is sort of like a hook that allows it to force its way inside. Once there, it pushes out a sac on the underside of the crab’s abdomen. That sac will now take over the stomach, intestines, and overall nervous system of the crab in an effort to absorb all of the food the crab takes in. Of course, this also allows it to take over the crab and control its behavior. Due to needing the crab’s hard shell to remain, it attaches to the gonads forcing them to atrophy and preventing the molting process. If perhaps the parasite is removed, female crabs will regenerate lost ovaries but male crabs will have a sex change and will actually develop ovarian tissue.