Range Tracking

Otherworldly Beach

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The Blue Land Crab (Cardisoma guanhumiz) migration is heating up again as we reach the October full Moon meaning there are a lot of strange invaders on the beach with waving eyestalks and menacing pincers in Indian River County, Florida.
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Last night, the Land Crabs on the beach were waiting for the high tide to recede so they could enter the shallower water to release their eggs. Note the large, brown, egg mass hanging down from the center of this Crab’s body. An average female can produce 300,000 – 700,000 eggs per spawn.
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The egg mass is carried for approximately two weeks before she migrates to the ocean to release the eggs into shallow water within one to two days of the full Moon.
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Peak spawning season in Florida is October and November.
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No, this is not a Land Crab but its smaller relative, the Atlantic Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata), which were all over the beach last night in large numbers.
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Many female Land Crabs are killed locally by speeding cars as the Crabs perilously cross busy Highway A1A trying to make their way to the beach to release their eggs into the Atlantic Ocean.
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Crab’s entering the water to release their eggs.
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Look at all those eggs nestled in that triangular brown mass along the bottom of the image! If you look closely, individual eggs can be seen. Sadly, most of the tiny larvae that hatch out are eaten by ocean predators meaning very few survive to adulthood to make their lives on land.
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Spooky Land Crab shadow.
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This is for real. Sam finally had a close photo encounter with a Land Crab. If you remember my last Land Crab post Harvest Moon Crab Migration, I had created an image pieced together from two different shots taken that particular evening because I could not get Sam and a Crab to line up in the frame, not that I set out to do such a thing, but if the chance presented itself I would try and grab it. Tonight it happened, though Sam does not seem too intimidated about the Crab doing its best to be frightening. I have to admit a Land Crab menaced me earlier in the evening and I jumped up and ran away. Hey, giant Crabs can be pretty scary in the dark.

Thank you to Janice Broda for providing lighting assistance for this photo shoot and to Pepper and Sam for just being there.

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