Marine Life‎ > ‎California‎ > ‎Invertebrates‎ > ‎


Burrow Pea Crab

Scleroplax granulata

(1-2: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

California Burrowing Crab

Malacoplax californiensis

(1-2: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Cryptic Kelp Crab

Pugettia richii

(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 2-4,7-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 5: Coral Street, Monterey / 6: Lovers Point, Monterey)

Foliate Kelp Crab

Mimulus foliatus

(1-2,5-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 3-4: Lovers Cove, Monterey)

Graceful Crab

Cancer gracilis

(1-7: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Claws have white tips.  If they have black tips, it might be a pacific rock crab.

They can bury themselves if they feel threatened:
(1-2: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Graceful Decorator Crab

Oregonia gracilis

(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Longer legs and thinner claws than the cryptic kelp crab.

Heart Crab

Phyllolithodes papillosus

(1: McAbee Beach, Monterey / 2-3: Lovers Point, Monterey / 4-6: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Lined Shore Crab

Pachygrapsus crassipes

(1: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 2-3: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Masking Crab

Loxorhynchus crispatus

Males have significantly bigger and longer arms:
(1-2: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 3-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Females and young are hairy and have smaller arms: 
(1-2,5-6: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 3-4,8: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 7: Lovers Point, Monterey)

These crabs decorate themselves with anemones and bryozoans.  Sometimes they are very camouflaged.  Smaller young are often confused with the sharpnose crab, which has somewhat broader claws and rostral horns which curve inward.

They and their decorations often glow under blue light:
(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Northern Kelp Crab

Pugettia producta

(1-2,5-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 3-4: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 9: Monastery Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea)

These crabs are mating.  Note the extended abdomen:
(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Pacific Rock Crab

Cancer antennarius

(1-3,5,8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 4: Coral Street, Monterey / 6-7: Monastery Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea)

Note the long antennae which give this crab its name.  The red rock crab also has black-tipped claws, but isn't as hairy, and has green eyes instead of red ones.

Juveniles are very hairy:
(1-3,5-6: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 4: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Red Rock Crab

Cancer productus

(1-2,4: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 3: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 5: Monastery Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea)

Red rock crabs have black tipped claws and relatively short antennae, and 5 shell teeth projecting forward between the eyes.

Juveniles are varied in color:
(1-6,8: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 7: Lovers Point, Monterey)

Their undersides and walking leg tips glow under blue light:
(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Sandflat Elbow Crab

Heterocrypta occidentalis

1-5: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 6: Lovers Cove, Monterey / 7: Monastery Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea / 8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Sharpnose Crab

Scyra acutifrons

(1,4,7: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 2: Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos / 3,8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 6-7: Lovers Point, Monterey)

Doesn't actively decorate as much as the masking crab.  Instead, it just lets crud accumulate until it's camouflaged.  Sort of like my kids do with their rooms.

These two are comparing fish stories fighting over territory:
(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Sheep Crab

Loxorhynchus grandis

(1-3,5-6: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 4,7-8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

The biggest crab in the area.  The 6th image shows mating crabs.

They fluoresce spectacularly under blue light:
(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Southern Kelp Crab

Taliepus nuttallii

(1-2: Sea Landing Cove, Santa Barbara Island)

Tube-Dwelling Pea Crab

Pinnixa tubicola

(1-3: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)

Umbrella Crab

Cryptolithodes sitchensis

(1: McAbee Beach, Monterey / 2-3: Lovers Cove, Monterey / 4-6,8: San Carlos Beach, Monterey / 7: Monastery Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea)

This is what they look like underneath:
(1: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Xantus' Swimming Crab

Portunus xantusii

(1-2: Monterey State Beach, Monterey / 3: San Carlos Beach, Monterey)

Their mouth parts glow under blue light:
(1: Monterey State Beach, Monterey)