The Atlantic Ghost Crab “Crabe Mal Zoreille”
Atlantic Ghost crabs are semi terrestrial crabs and breathe oxygen from the air through moistened gills. They are called “Atlantic Ghost crab” because they are swift runners at a speed of 10 miles per hour, disappearing into their tunnels in the sand if they detect the slightest movement made by a potential predator or another sign of danger. In Guadeloupe, the ghost crab is called “Crabe Mal Zoreille” and the Latin name is “Ocypode quadrata” from the Ocypodidae family.
Atlantic Ghost crabs have elongated and swollen eye stalks with very large corneas on the bottom half. They have the ability to see completely from all 360 degree angles simultaneously. Their carapaces are deep and box-like, squarish when viewed from the top with straight or slightly curving sides. Most Atlantic ghost crabs have white greyish or yellow coloured bodies that blend in well with the sand. Indeed, they are capable of gradually changing body colouration to match their environments and the time of day.
The Atlantic Ghost Crab is a common species along the Atlantic coast of the United States and you can find it on Rhode Island’s beaches south along the coasts of the tropical Western Atlantic Ocean to the beach of “Barra do Chui”, in “Rio Grande do Sul” in southern Brazil and finally in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.
The Atlantic ghost crab or “Crabe Mal Zoreille” is a crustacean living in sandy beaches in Guadeloupe. They dig deep burrows that are three to four feet in depth. They must periodically wet their gills with seawater, usually by taking water from moist sand or by running into the surf and letting the waves wash over them but they cannot swim. They remain in their burrows during the hottest part of the day and they are predominantly nocturnal to escape usual predator such as birds or small mammals.
Atlantic Ghost Crabs are omnivorous and eat other species of crabs, lizards, clams, insects, plant material and detritus.
Reproduction and life cycle
Mating can occur throughout the year. Females store the fertilised eggs in their rounded abdominal flaps. While carrying the eggs, they must keep them wet by frequently entering the water. Then the females lay their eggs in the water, where the larva hatch. The larva, also known as zoea, floats freely around in the water. There are five different stages in the zoea stage and one megalopa stage. Then after 2 months a full grown adult is created, which is usually two to three inches. The Atlantic Ghost Crab can live up to three years.