Friday, July 15, 2011

Crabday: Ghost Crabs

Happy Harry Potter Day! I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the LAST movie!!! I made my husband wait in line at midnight in Chicago when the last book came out, so I’m actually thinking of waiting for him to get back from Russia before I see the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Key word: thinking!

In honor of the culmination of the Harry Potter series, this Crabday we’ll learn about the 
Ghost Crab!

The common name ‘ghost crab’ refers to several species found all over the world! Many of you on the east coast of the US may be familiar with Ocypode quadrata, while those of you in the Indo-Pacific region may know Ocypode pallidula as your friendly ghost crab.

Ocypode quadrata hanging out at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Ocypode crabs get their ghostly name from their pale colors across their genus. Only the painted ghost crab O. gaudichaudii is bright orange (found in the Galapagos, and from El Salvador to Chile), but I guess there’s an “orange crab” in every family. (Eh, see what I did there? Let’s start using that phrase instead of “black sheep”. New crab movement!)

orange is the new white: a painted ghost crab in the Galapagos

The name may also refer to their ability to hide quickly (ie disappear), a skill referenced in the genus where Ocy means swift and podi means foot. When I was in Fiji we’d just get a glimpse of a little white crustacean before it sprinted to its home; the local dogs had a hard time trying to snatch the speedy crabs up, and no wonder when ghost crabs can run about 100 body lengths/second (compared to a cheetah’s 10 body lengths per second)!

this horn-eyed ghost crab O. ceratopthalma from New South Wales
must be taking a break from all the running

Enjoy the many varieties of ghost crabs, and enjoy the movies!


  1. Yes! Ghost crab post! are there any other crabs that live in the Galapagos?

  2. Hey Torrie! I'm not finding too much else about Galapagos crabs other than the Sally Lightfoots, so you'll definitely have to keep an eye out and take plenty of pictures while you're down there of any crabs you see!