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Friday, November 17, 2017

The violinist of the Pacific

When I heard we would be at a meeting near Newport Bay, I wondered if we'd have a chance at seeing a fiddler crab.  There's only one species of fiddler crab in California, and I vaguely remembered that its northern range limit is near Newport Bay.  (They are now found as far north as Santa Barbara.)

We took a drive along the shore of Upper Newport Bay and stopped to check the upper edges of the marsh.  It didn't take long to spot them!  Meet the Crenulated Fiddler Crab (Leptuca crenulata):

Here's another male with its burrow nearby:

And a female, with two smaller claws (instead of one larger and one smaller claw):

Later, when reviewing photos, I also spotted a few juvenile fiddler crabs.  Can you find the juveniles in the picture below?  (Hint: They're near their small burrows.)


There are two juveniles in the picturesee yellow arrows below:

P.S.  When I was reviewing the common name of this species, I encountered several versions — e.g., Mexican Fiddler Crab, California Fiddler Crab, Crenulated Fiddler Crab.  Because the geographic range spans both (Southern) California and Mexico, it was hard for me to justify using either of those names.  It's always helpful when the common name is linked to something in the scientific name, so I used Crenulated Fiddler Crab in this post.  "Crenulated" means having an irregular, e.g., notched or scalloped, outline.  

I also encountered an alternative Spanish name for this speciesCangrejo violinista del Pacifico.  I think that translates into "Violinist crab of the Pacific."  The "violinist" portion refers to the movement of the male's large claw during courtship.

1 comment:

Eileen Clegg said...

I've always wondered about the origin of the name "fiddler crab." Thanks!