Creature Feature: Mole Crab

Emerita talpoida

Dorsal view

A friend of mine recently posted these pictures on Facebook and out of curiosity I set off to find out what strange creature this was.

A brief history, my friend was walking on Carolina beach, Wilmington and saw this strange creature being pulled out of the shores by a bird who was about to make a meal out of it.

So what is it?

After much consultation with the Peterson Field Guide for Atlantic Seashore, I am confident to say this strange creature is a mole crab (Emerita talpoida).

These creatures are egg shaped and sand coloured and would measure up to an inch in length. Mole crabs have sizable claws on their front legs and three pairs of walking legs with the forth pair folded up behind. They live on sandy beaches, moving up and down with breaking waves and feed  on organic debris caught by their feathery antennae.

Emerita talpoida

Ventral view, showing walking legs and feathery antennae (orange)

Pictures courtesy of Debby Ng
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3 Responses to Creature Feature: Mole Crab

  1. The orange masses are actually eggs. Large mole crabs are females, the males tend to be less than 1 cm long and can become dwarf male commensals clinging to the females carapace.

    Shoulda consulted this paper: (my undergrad thesis, note author #2)

  2. BomaiCruz says:

    [New Post] Creature Feature: Mole Crab – via @tweetblender

  3. Sherell Moshos says:

    Great information 🙂

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