Spring Snapshot – Red Rock Crab

Hansville, WA – The first beach trek of the spring/summer season is always full of great anticipation and joy.   Here in the Puget Sound region of western Washington, the water is shallow and quiet, spectacularly so at low tide.  The sea floor is laid bare and we see intertidal creatures who we might otherwise miss. 

It is common to see crabs of all sizes, both dead and alive, lurking among the rocks, eel grass and seaweed. They are scavengers, acting as efficient marine clean up crews. They will eat anything dead or alive that they can catch. Adult red rock crabs are large and often feisty, not scurrying into the shadows as quickly as some of their crab cousins. 

Experience the Red Rock Crab

      • Find this gorgeous crab in the shallow waters of the Salish Sea. Look for bright rich red coloring. Make a positive identification by noticing the black tipped claws. No other local crab has them.
      • Although some crabs can be gently handled, the red rock crab is NOT one of them.  Their pinch is very painful and is powerful enough to break a small finger.
      • Determine the crab’s gender by looking at the underside of deceased crabs.  Females have a broad “beehive shaped” structure that drops down when eggs are released. Males sport a narrow lighthouse on their undersides.  
      • Take time to wonder at the intricate design of the carapace (the top coat) as well as the joints plates that make up the legs and underbody.  
      • If you have a chance to study one up close while it is eating, the mouth parts are especially intriguing. 
      • For more about crabs, read This is Crab Country!


Enjoy a wonder-filled day!

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Images and Video – SPegany©2000-2020

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. Psalm 104:24-25

2 thoughts on “Spring Snapshot – Red Rock Crab

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Good question! Yes, it is sand on the carapace that makes it look grey. When I found this guy, he was buried in the sand. All I saw was a large claw sticking out. When I bent down to get a closer look, the crab burst out of the sand and started scurrying around. It is interesting that even underwater and with lots of movement, the sand remained. Our Salish Sea beaches are full of creatures that use sand to hide and one never knows who or what will pop up… always as grand treasure hunt! Thanks for writing.


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