Animal Species:Surf Crab

The Surf Crab is easy to identify because it is the only species of crab in Sydney with two dark red spots on its carapace.

Surf Crab sitting on a beach

Dr Isobel Bennett © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Surf Crab

Alternative Name/s

Sand Crab, Bait Thief, Biter

Identification

The Surf Crab is easy to identify because it is the only species of crab in Sydney with two dark red spots on its carapace.

Size range

10 cm

Distribution

The Surf Crab is found from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania to Perth in Western Australia.

Habitat

The Surf Crab lives on intertidal beaches and in estuaries and oceans to a depth of 35 m.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Surf Crab is commonly found on ocean beaches between the high- and low-tide marks. The Surf Crab belongs to the family Portunidae, known as swimming crabs because their back legs are modified into paddles. These paddles not only assist with swimming but also enable the crab to efficiently dig backwards into the sand and disappear when necessary. Local fishers refer to this crab as 'Biter' and 'Bait Thief' because it comes into shallow water and nibbles on bare feet, and removes bait from fishers' hooks.

Classification

Species:
australiensis
Genus:
Ovalipes
Family:
Portunidae
Infraorder:
Brachyura
Suborder:
Pleocyemata
Order:
Decapoda
Class:
Malacostraca
Subphylum:
Crustacea
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags crabs, crustacean, crustaceans, arthrppods, arthropods, invertebrates, wildlife of sydney, identification,