Posted by Kasey | 10.10.2023 | Sea Turtle Camp News

Let us tell you about Atlantic Ghost Crabs!

Who doesn’t love an evening walk on the beach? The sun has just set, it’s still a bit light out and you can meander along feeling the sea breeze in your hair. Out of the corner of your eye, you see something move up the beach so quickly that you think you imagined it. Let us tell you about Atlantic Ghost Crabs!

Atlantic Ghost Crabs are primarily nocturnal crabs that spend their time burrowing into the sand on the beach. They are quite skilled at building tunnels and can have an entire system right under where you’re walking. They don’t head back into the water unless they need to wet their gills or develop their eggs. In fact, they don’t need to get fully into the water to wet their gills, they simply need some moist sand!

Their name comes from their coloring which allows them to camouflage in the sand. They are also able to move up to 10mph making them very difficult to see for longer than mere seconds. Ghost crabs are quite the predators feeding on insects, sea turtle eggs and hatchlings, other crabs, clams, and detritus. They fall prey to gulls, shorebirds, and raccoons.

Ghost crabs are extremely important to our beaches in North Carolina. They help us keep the beach clean by eating detritus, they are an easy way to monitor our beaches’ health, and they are a critical part of the food chain. There are many that like to “hunt” for ghost crabs at night, but we would like to remind everyone to leave them be and just enjoy their scurrying!

– Michaela LeMay, Program Coordinator