Lee Patrick

Fiddler Crabs

The Atlantic Sand Fiddler Crab (Leptuca pugilator) is not very big. In fact, at about 1.5 inches by 1.0 inch in size, it’s really pretty tiny. But during late spring/early summer, when I am collecting water samples out at the Creek, there are hundreds, maybe thousands along the shore. Camouflaged with the sand, but also fairly active, they create the illusion of a moving sand carpet out of the corner of your eye.

Photo of an Atlantic sand fiddler crab

Atlantic sand fiddler crab outside its burrow.

Photo by Lee Patrick, taken May 30, 2024, 350mm zoom

When you do look closely, the main activity you might see are male crabs waving their one enlarged claw. This super claw can account for half or more of a male’s body size. The waving behavior helps to attract females and intimidate other males. Despite the crab’s camouflage, this huge, lighter claw very much stands out.

Photo of an Atlantic sand fiddler crab

Male Atlantic sand fiddler crab waving its large claw.

Photo by Lee Patrick

Once you start to approach any closer, however, these crabs scurry back into their sand burrows with lightning speed. On this recent visit to the Creek, I brought along a new zoom lens to be able to photograph them from a distance. On return visits, I’ll be looking forward to capturing more photos and video of these crabs and other Creek wildlife.