Ghost Crabs

Subfamily Ocypodinae

The beach at Cape Vidal is alive with Ghost Crabs, a good indication as to the health of the intertidal ecosystem thanks to minimal human impact on this stretch of coast.

Ghost Crabs are omnivorous scavengers, living on any carrion, debris, and even small living creatures up to the size of turtle hatchlings that gets washed onto the beach.

Being semi-terrestrial and living in burrows they dig for themselves in moist sand, Ghost Crabs can breathe oxygen from the air through their gills, provided they can keep them wet which requires the crabs to scuttle into the waves every so often. However, they can’t stay in the water too long or they’ll drown.

This necessity for the Ghost Crabs to go into the water at regular intervals had us quite amused during our recent visit to Cape Vidal in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The crabs would run towards the approaching wave, stand their ground, get pounded, and then re-appear when the wave retreats, still standing in the same spot. Not once did we see one of the crabs loose its footing and get tossed around by the wave action!


15 thoughts on “Ghost Crabs

  1. H.J. for avian101

    These crabs are abundant in almost every beach, as you pointed out are scavenger of any left overs of any kind that washes out on the beach. I do not know their names but are digging holes in the wet sand at all times. I love the oceans better than the lakes or rivers. Thank you, D. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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