Photo Claire Sunquist ©
Slightly smaller than your thumb, sand crabs are common but not often seen inhabitants of Florida beaches. They live in buried in the sand, in the area of breaking waves, and move up and down the beach with the tide. They are usually found in groups, you may see a dozen or several thousand of them scurrying around as the shallow waves wash over the sand.
Sand crabs use their antennae to filter plankton and microorganisms from the water. They are in turn, important food for shore birds, water birds, and fish.
Sand crabs are very popular as bait for shore fishing. Fishermen catch them by hand, or with a specially made ‘rake’ to use as bait for pompano, speckled trout, and whiting.
Sand Crab Rake
Raking the surf for Sand Crabs
Living in the beach sand and feeding on microorganisms as they do, sand crabs take in any toxins that are in the environment. Environmental scientists monitoring the health of the ocean use them as a primary source of information.
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