Emerita talpoida

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Ventral view of a mole crab.

Mole Crab - Emerita talpoida

Habitat Well exposed sandy beaches, in the intertidal region (between high tide and low tide).

Range Geographic range spans along the Atlantic Coast mainly between North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico; however individuals have been collected outside of this range.

Description Egg - shaped with a convex carapace, pale grayish tan; up to one inch in length. Two pairs of antennae, first pair of legs very sturdy with remaining pairs slender and less broad.

Ecological Notes Feed upon organic debris captured by antennae. Are unable to bite, sting, or pinch. Very good burrowers. Males are less then half the size of females and exhibit semiparasitism except during winter months. During the winter both males and female migrate and inhibat deeper waters.

Personal Information Mole crabs were collected on Oregon Inlet beach. They were collected by scooping sand from the intertidal zone.

Journal Articles

DIAZ H. “THE MOLE CRAB EMERITA-TALPOIDA A CASE OF CHANGING LIFE HISTORY PATTERN.” Ecological Monographs, v. 50 issue 4, 1980, p. 437-456.

This article studied the life history of Emerita talpoida over a span of two years to full understand the effects the environment had upon their life history pattern.

Forward, Richard B., Jr.; Thaler, Andrew D.; Singer, Rachel. “Entrainment of the activity rhythm of the mole crab Emerita talpoida.” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, v. 341 issue 1, 2007, p. 10-15.

This paper addressed the circadian rthym of mole crabs and its relationship to the tides. It determined the mechanical attributes of the tides greatly affect the behavior of mole crabs.


Amos, W., & Amos, S. (1998). National Audobon Society Nature Guides: Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (Original work published 1985)

Contributed by Rachel Day - 2010

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