Dracula & The Ghost Crab

piping-plover-and-ghost-vcab
Dracula & The Ghost Crab

A lot of people don’t notice the Ghost Crabs who riddle our beaches, thanks to the Ghost Crab’s perfect camouflage and quick-scurry action back into the tiny burrows they dig in the sand.

They are sort of adorable as the scurry around or pop their enormous eyes out of their burrows just far enough to play peek-a-boo with us — but they are not so cute to our PIPL. Ghost Crabs are known to drag little doodles into their dark burrows. Michelle Stantial was actually able to dig some scraps of remains from missing chicks out of Ghost Crab burrows around New Jersey thanks to the radio antennas she put on them. I was tempted to request permission to show a few photos, but then I came to my senses. Though you might be interested to know that Ghost Crabs appear to om nom PIPL chicks much like we om nom Crabs: by taking the legs off first.

In the photo above you can see Dracula defending her chicks against a Ghost Crab whose burrow was right in the middle of where the babies were feeding. Notice how her tail is fanned out… perhaps to make her look larger, or perhaps to hide her legs. One pinch from a Ghost Crab on her delicate, orange legs and she could have an injury from which she will never recover.

This is the only time I’ve ever witnessed a PIPL actively defend her babies from a Ghost Crab. Drac was brave & persistent, keeping the Ghost Crab confined to its burrow as long as she could. Interestingly, she never bothered to puff herself up, or stand up straight, or otherwise make herself taller. Instead she would hunch a bit, fan her tail, and drop it to the sand. Whatever the case, Dracula trumped The Ghost. Who knew?

WordPress, the host of Readings From The Northside, just sent me a nice letter congratulating RFTNS on its eight year anniversary. They also strangely noted that “most people would have quit long before this day.”

In the spirit of the anniversary, let’s take a trip into the archives and have a look at this… to see what else we might learn about Ghost Crabs.