Saturday, March 5, 2011
March 5, 2011 : Ghost Crabs
Ghost crabs, also called sand crabs, are crabs of the genus Ocypode, common shore crabs in many countries. Characteristics of the genus include one claw being larger than the other, but this difference is not as marked as in male fiddler crabs.
Ghost crabs dominate sandy shores in tropical and subtropical areas, replacing the sandhoppers that predominate in cooler areas. They breathe through gills, which they periodically wet with seawater. They must also return to the ocean to release their eggs, which develop into marine larvae.
Adult ghost crabs dig deep burrows, comprising a log shaft with a chamber at the end, occasionally with a second entrace shaft. They remain in the burrow during the hottest part of the day, and throughout the coldest part of the winter. They emerge mostly at night, to feed on mole crabs and coquina clams, although they will also eat a wide range of items, including carrion, debris and turtle hatchlings.
The name "ghost crab" derives from the animals' nocturnality and their pale colouration; only O. gaudichaudii The scientific name is brightly coloured.Ocypode is derived from the Greek roots ocy- ("fast") and ποδός (podos, "foot"), in reference to the animal's speed.