Ghost crab digging a burrow near a washed up coconut

Ghost crab digging a burrow near a washed up coconut

Pity the poor crab. Just because they waive their claws menacingly when approached does not mean they have mean dispositions. They merely stand their ground, strike a defensive pose, and show off their formidable weapons. This seems like fair warning to would be molesters.

However, crabs can deliver a nasty pinch as I have experienced often when I have tried to pick one up without using tongs, or have stepped on one half-buried in the sand.

Having a crab dangling from one’s digits is a painful and panicky situation. The first instinct is to shake your hand or foot like crazy, which is not a good plan since they just hang on for dear life.

Land Crab - posing nicely for me.

Land Crab - posing nicely for me.

No, the trick is to stay calm and lower your throbbing hand or foot into the water which usually causes the crab to let go.

At least this works for aquatic crabs, I am not sure what I would do if a land crab were to latch on to me with no water in sight. And so, I try to keep a safe distance. Thank goodness for zoom lenses! No macros!

Usually, they will just scurry away before attacking as did these land and ghost crabs after they got tired of posing for pictures. Their sideways runs at lightning speed left me clicking the next shots of the places where crabs used to be.

But why do they run sideways and not go full steam ahead? A little internet research revealed that crab anatomy permits them to shuffle slowly forward, but to go full out sideways. (See: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/crab.aspx)

And, their flexible eyestalks allow them to look all around them so going sideways does not mean they cannot look in other directions. (Notice that Mr. Land Crab has one eye on me while the other looks elsewhere.)

Land crab after running away from me

Land crab after running away from me

The crabs pictured here are just two of the great diversity of crabs found in Florida. I have trapped and eaten blue crabs and stone crabs (yummy) and seen numerous other kinds, including hermit crabs, spider crabs, mangrove crabs, swimming crabs, and so many others, including my personal favorite, the fiddler crab.

The fiddlers live in large groups in burrows on mudflats. The male has one large claw which he waves around to warn off other males and to attract the female of his species. Hey baby… over here!

Ghost crab hiding in the washed up seaweeds

Ghost crab hiding in the washed up seaweeds

So, let’s hear it for the REAL crabs! Three cheers! They make me smile with their antics and enrich my life.

Henceforth, I vow not to call some grumpy human, “an old crab,” ever again. 😉 Lyn

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