Thursday, November 3, 2011

cancer crabs ~ 11/03/11 ~ Morro Strand Beach

rock crab carapaces

The interior of Cancer carapaces are amazingly colorful. These almost look like they've been filled with Easter egg dye and sand.

This post was very challenging to research, hence it's link-laden. According to the California Department of Fish and Game, we have 9 species of Cancer crabs. I used an old edition of Light's Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates of the Central California Coast sent to me by Steve at Blue Jay Barrens (Thanks again, Steve!), which listed only 8 species and keyed 6 of those.

I'm attempting to ID based solely on the carapaces, which is the most common body part I saw washed up on the beach. Everything I found were 1-3" in width. Since crabs molt, size is not a significant indicator of a species. I spent quite a bit of time zooming in on each of the photos and counting the carapace spines/teeth. There is very little information online for some of the smaller species. If you're curious to learn more, make sure to click on the embedded links under each photo.

best guess hairy rock crab
best guess Cancer jordani (aka Romaleon jordani)

ps - For a little bit of gutter humor, as I was researching the IDs above using the old Light's Manual and with selective choice of spp. and words... I discovered pee crabs, er, pea crabs (Pinnixa spp. and others) live in penis fish (Urechis spp.) burrows. Haha, who knew!?!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Great post. I love that first colorful shot!