RED ROCK CRAB
©NOAA Photo Library/Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, NOAA Corps
Grapsus grapsus is one of the most common crabs along the western coast of the Americas. Known variously as “red rock crab”, “abuete negro”, and, together with other crab, as “Sally Lightfoot”. It is found along the Pacific coast of Mexico, Central America, South America (as far south as northern Peru), and nearby islands. It is one of the many charismatic species that inhabit the Galápagos Islands, and is often seen in photos of the archipelago, sometimes sharing the seaside rocks with the marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus).
Grapsus grapsus was collected by Charles Darwin during his voyages on HMS Beagle, and also by the first comprehensive study of the fauna of the Gulf of California, carried out by Ed Ricketts, together with John Steinbeck and others. Steinbeck records:
Many people have spoken at length of the Sally Lightfoots. In fact, everyone who has seen them has been delighted with them. The very name they are called by reflects the delight of the name. These little crabs, with brilliant cloisonné carapaces, walk on their tiptoes, They have remarkable eyes and an extremely fast reaction time. In spite of the fact that they swarm on the rocks at the Cape [San Lucas], and to a less degree inside the Gulf [of California], they are exceedingly hard to catch. They seem to be able to run in any of four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. They escape the long-handled net, anticipating from what direction it is coming. If you walk slowly, they move slowly ahead of you in droves. If you hurry, they hurry. When you plunge at them, they seem to disappear in a puff of blue smoke—at any rate, they disappear. It is impossible to creep up on them. They are very beautiful, with clear brilliant colors, red and blues and warm browns.
Sally Lightfoot Crab
Shame-Faced or Bashful Crab
Rosy-Lipped Cocos Island Crab