Brunei Darussalam

HORN-EYED GHOST CRAB FOAMS AT THE MOUTH

I can understand why it’s called Horn-Eyed but Ghost Crab, no clue. But thanks to Roger McIlroy, an expert on seashore life and someone with whom I had only recently got acquainted by e-mail, clued me in on its name. These were recently seen at the Seria beach right at the Billionth Barrel Monument. Just two days after I shot waves and rocks I got excited and had hoped to see the waves hitting the rocks during the day but there was none. Instead, I noticed in the distance an army of crabs marching in stride until we showed up.

The near-noon hours of a sunny morning and interesting “claw” shadows. My mom caught one and a rather large one that was trying to run away. Apparently, horn-eyed ghost crabs are commonly seen on our sandy shores but there’s supposedly more active at night. Their large holes mark the entrance to their burrows and are usually located on the landward shore near the high water mark, with large amounts of sand tossed around the entrance.

The bright spots you see below are reflections of the sun and this particular crab is quite docile. I was able to go very near it and it remained still (as near as an inch away or whatever is the minimum focusing distance of the Canon EFS 10-22mm lens). The bright spots fooled the camera metering into pulling back exposures so much it looked like a late evening scene. This is one of my favourites.

dec-crabs-2008-08

Now, this is the first time I had seen a crab foam at the mouth. I’ve seen earlier ones that spat water but not one that foamed. When I had these pictures published ahead of the words, I got asked by a few IM contacts what I had done to (presumably provoked) cause it to react this way. I searched for an answer as soon as I got back. Really, just one answer would be good enough but the more I clicked the more doubts began to fill my head. No, Steven, we did not tickle the crab into foaming and no, Lee Ming, those aren’t my hands.

dec-crabs-2008-07

10 thoughts on “HORN-EYED GHOST CRAB FOAMS AT THE MOUTH

  1. Ok, now I am very interested to know why a crab foams at its mouth. I am amazed that you can shoot at it so closely as well. Usually the mini crabs I see will hide away 😉

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  2. I’m interested in knowing why they foam as well. I have a mini crab in my tank and it’s foaming at the mouth. hoping to find an answer.

    Thanks!

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  3. I have searched for an answer online and what I found I cannot say if I’m contributing an answer or an answer that leads to more questions. One source thinks the foaming process keep their gills moist and to balance the salt concentration within its body by excreting mucus to clear its airway. Another source thinks foaming at the mouth is a sign of illness. I like to think that since certain species of crabs are widely known to foam, it’s more than likely that they are not ill and foaming is part and parcel of their existence.

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      1. Hey guys… I just put a post in my Brunei Lifestyle blog on a booklets of The Seashore Life series and mentioned Jan’s pic of the stressed-out crab as being selected in the book.

        Why it foams? Well, according to the book, “When the Ocypode crab is stressed, it blows bubbles.” There’s a further explanation to this but first, sorry, you must read the book. Seem unfair for me to put down the information here :)…

        http://chittychat.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/life-on-the-seashore/

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