Common Spider Crab

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Common Spider Crab

Libinia emarginata

Range/Geographical Distribution: Along the coast from Nova Scotia to Brazil.

Habitat: All types of benthos including estuaries, beaches, and bays.

Description: A round, spiny, brown/yellow crab with white-tipped claws.  The carapace is covered in Velcro-like hairs which attract algae, bryozoa, and debris that juvenile crabs use for camouflage.

Size: Can reach four inches in carapace (shell) width.  Legs can reach a foot in diameter.

Food: Scavenger.

Breeding: During mating, the male transfers a spermatophore to the female. The fertilized eggs are brooded on the female’s abdomen until they hatch.  Newly hatched larvae go through three planktonic stages, which last about nine days, before settling onto the benthos.

Predators:  Birds, fish, and rays.

Conservation status: No legal status.

Interesting Facts:  The male spider crab grows larger than the female.  They are sluggish and unaggressive scavengers that have poor eyesight but sensitive chemoreceptors on the tips of their legs.

On the Coast:  The molts (shed exoskeletons) of spider crabs often wash up on Georgia’s beaches.  Juvenile crabs might also be found hitching a ride on cannonball jellyfish when the jellyfish wash up onto the shore.

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