Conservation Status: Least Concern
Scientific Name: Grapsus grapsus
The Sally Lightfoot Crab is unmistakable for it’s intensely bright coloring, and wonderful ability to walk on water – with just a quick hop, skip and jump to escape from danger. They are one of the most frequently seen creatures on Galapagos shores, and extremely photogenic to boot.
Adult Sally Lightfoots are very attractive, showing characteristic red/orange shells, with sky blue belly, yellow face and pink eyes. Younger crabs have much darker colouration with red spots, providing a higher degree of camouflage against black lava. Each time adolescent crabs moult their shell, their spots become gradually larger, until they obtain full adult colouring. What adult crabs lack in camouflage, they gain in the game of attraction by sexual selection.
Where to Find Them: In rock pools, lava cracks & shallow waters on all islands.
When to See Them: Year-round.
The Sally Lightfoot Crab is an easy species to tick off your list, visible on any beach shoreline, especially close to black lava rocks with tidal pools.
They are extremely quick and agile, which helps them to survive the wide range of predators that chase them, such as octopus, fish, lava heron, moray eel, lava lizards, and introduced species like rats, cats and dogs. Adult crabs are particularly impossible to catch, as many tourists can attest to.
Female Sally Lightfoot Crabs carry their eggs on their stomachs until they are ready to hatch in the water. The small larvae swim to deep waters in large groups, surviving on phytoplankton, and moulting various times before transforming into baby crabs and swimming back ashore.
Sally Lightfoots are beach scavengers, feeding on pretty much anything they can find. They play an important role in the ecosystem, keeping beaches clean of organic matter.
Check out our other blog posts to learn more about other Galapagos Retiles, Crustaceans & Animals.
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