Gulf Ghost Crab
Cangrejo de Playa
(Ocypode occidentalis)

Gulf Ghost Crab, Ocypode occidentalis: The Gulf Ghost Crab is a member of the Ocypodidae Family of crabs characterized by the unequal size of their claws (chelae) and long, heavy eye stalks. Gulf Ghost Crabs live very close to the surf line, with the larger ones found just above the high tide line and the small ones closer to the crashing waves.

Gulf Ghost Crabs are nocturnal creatures, appearing just at sunset. They are omnivorous macroscavengers eating anything found in the drift line, but focusing on dead fish and crustaceans. Collection is fairly difficult as they are quite speedy and not afraid of crashing waves, and they do have strong pinchers that can inflict major instant pain. There are reports that Gulf Ghost Crabs are easy to catch by following their burrows; the report that they can dig faster than an hombre with a shovel is a myth.

The Gulf Ghost Crab reaches a maximum size of 6 inches.

Distribution in Mexico

In Mexico, the Gulf Ghost Crab is found along the Pacific side of the Baja California Peninsula, in the upper portions of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of mainland Mexico through to Guatemala.

We are not sure that these are of much significance, but if you see a crab that acts like a ghost you will know it is an Ocypode occidentalis!

Gulf Ghost Crab picture 1

Gulf Ghost Crab picture 2

Gulf Ghost Crab picture 3

Gulf Ghost Crab, Ocypode occidentalis: Caught by hand off the beach at Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, Mexico, August 2004. Size approximately 5 inches. Description and photo courtesy John Snow.

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