Crab for Lunch

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I had quite the little adventure one day last week during a midmorning break. I’ve become fascinated with the many land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) living here at the Garden. It makes sense they’re here. They like low-lying areas near the coast, and usually aren’t found more than five miles from the coast, having to return to the ocean to disburse their eggs. (Note: I once saw one in my backyard in Country Walk, a good eight miles or so from the nearest salt water as the crow flies. It scurried into its burrow behind a banana plant, never to be seen again in my decade living there).

I’ve walked around the Garden’s lakes trying to sneak up on crabs, but instead there is a nice little view of our Sunken Garden from a break in the palms, aroids, ferns and rock wall cordoning it. From above, one can sometimes watch the land crabs outside their burrows. They don’t seem to do much, but then again, here I am crouched over a bunch of buttons moving my eyes, fingers and not much else. I even brought a nice telephoto lens to get some shots from on high, but every time I have the camera, no crabs. If I leave the camera home, there’s a great chance I’ll see the crabs. The one I am really interested in is a particularly large crab who lives right at the edge of the pond in the Sunken Garden. Prime crustacean real estate! I don’t know why I find them companionable; they scurry into their holes at the first sign of movement, and are pretty common here in the south. Maybe it’s the one large claw (asymmetry is unusual). They are purple-ish/red when young, ageing to blue, gray, sometimes white. Females are often lighter in color. Maybe the duality of their lives appeals to this Gemini: semi-terrestrial during most of life, having been born in the sea, and needing to return there to reproduce, amphibian like.

I’ll get a good photo of them. In the meantime I satisfied my curiosity by sticking my iphone into their burrows to pay them an unexpected visit.

Land crab guarding its burrow
Land crab guarding its burrow


Inside land crab home
Why, you could knock before coming in you know.