Southern Kelp Crab
- Crab with large, rounded, smooth shell with triangular, sharp rostrum at front of shell.
- Long, spindly legs and large front claws.
- They often camouflage themselves by attaching bits of algae, sponges, bryozoans, or small animals to their long legs.
- Coloration ranges from dark reddish-brown to dark purple to yellow-orange.
- Males can reach 3.6 inches and females can reach 1.8 inches in shell diameter.
- Santa Barbara, California to Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico.
- Found in rocky intertidal habitats, among the algae.
- Found offshore in kelp beds.
- Sometimes live in the surfgrass.
- Live at depths of up to 300 feet.
- A pre-courtship ritual is common, through smell and tactile cues.
- Females can produce eggs every 30 days.
- Females can hold as many as 61,000 developing eggs at once.
- Mainly algae, especially brown algae.
- Giant kelp and feather boa kelp.
- Giant sea star, Kellet’s whelk.
- They are also called the globose kelp crab.
- They often molt their shells to rid themselves of unwanted shell adornments like barnacles or moss.
- The algae, sponges, and bryozoans, they attach as camouflage can also act as defense mechanisms because they can taste and smell bad to predators.
Sources: Mexican-fish.com; Cabrillo National Monument; Ambrose 1986; SeaLifeBase
Photo: Rocio Gajon Bunker