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ghost crab

This crab was ready for battle!  I crawled after it on my hands and knees, then layed on the damp sand for a close up shot.  Frame, focus, snap.  I took a shot, blinked, and then the crab was three feet down the beach.  I crawled after it again, got another shot, and away it went.

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

The crab and I played out this scenario a number of times over about a 100′ stretch of sand.  Each time I was only able to grab a shot or two before Mr. Crabs decided he had had enough and cruised a foot or two out of reach.

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

This is a horned ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus).  According to wikipedia, it can run almost seven feet per second.  According to my observations, that’s true.  Amazing that a creature with eight legs can move that quickly…and sideways at that!

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

Fortunately the crab is not a distance runner, and only sprinted for a second or two at a time before coming to rest again, too far away to shoot.

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

I found out later that other photographers further down the beach had been watching my antics with bemusement.  They were too far away to see the crab, and figured I had simply lost my mind, crawling in rapid bursts along the beach.  Too many hours in the hot tropical sun, and all that.  I’m sure that from a distance, my behavior looked pretty comical.

But I was on a mission.  I knew I only had a few minutes of wonderful golden sidelighting from the setting sun during which to grab an image, I wanted to be as close to Mr. Crabs’ eye level as possible, and even with his eyes handily placed on stalks they were still only a couple of inches above the sand.



Mission accomplished!



  1. Great shots, but it looks like he saw your camera as a bit too much to do battle with.

    • Thanks Dave. 🙂

      I wonder if he saw his reflection in the lens? I don’t think crab eyes are that keen, but I’m not really sure.

      He was quite ready to do battle and had his claws poised for combat, even though I was much bigger than he was.

      I guess he knew I couldn’t cover seven feet of sand in a second like he could…

      RPRT Photo

  2. Reblogged this on oceanicexplorer and commented:
    Love this close-up ghost crab shot, the eye stalks are the most impressive. I was nipped by a common shore crab last Wednesday but these claws look like they could deal out more pain

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the reblog. 🙂

      Crab claws are incredibly strong for their size, aren’t they? And this crab was ready to use them!

      And the eye stalks are just too cool. This little guy was really incredibly photogenic, especially considering his dimunitive stature. He was sweet and fierce at the same time.

      RPRT Photo

      PS Love the Giant Squid shot on your site. What a fascinating creature! 🙂

  3. I love it when a plan comes together! Wonderful photo with that light, the sand and an amusing creature.

    • Thanks for the kind comments, Lyle.

      You’re really the master when it comes to amusing anecdotes while stalking fauna with a camera.

      But every once in a while I come up with one that’s worth sharing. 🙂

      RPRT Photo

  4. Great shot and great story 😀

    • Thanks Charlie. Glad you like the story and the image. 🙂

      RPRT Photo

  5. 🙂 🙂 🙂


    • Back at ya, Vento!

      I like the image you posted on this date. 🙂

      RPRT Photo

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