Persephona punctata

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Persephona punctata

Persephona punctata - Purse crab

Habitat Purse crabs live in shallow, sandy or shell-covered environments, like beaches. They are commonly found washed ashore on many barrier islands.

Range Purse crabs can be found in shallow waters along the Atlantic coast of Mexico and of the U.S all the way up to New Jersey.

Description Characterized by a granular carapace that is almost perfectly round with three conical spikes on the posterior end. This purse crab has jointed appendages, long claws, and a triangular mouth area. They are usually light in color with reddish brown to purple spots on the carapace. Adult females are characterized as having the abdomen formed into a hemispherical cup that snaps shut against the sternum to form a brooding chamber for the eggs.

Ecological Notes This purse crab, as well as many other crab species, must shed their shells (exoskeletons) in order to grow. After the crab is free of its old exoskeleton, it maintains a soft shell for several days until it hardens. The crab is most vulnerable at this point, as it's new shell is hardening. The purse crab is commonly found washed ashore on Atlantic beaches where it may fall prey to hungry sea birds.

Personal Information Persephona punctata was found on the beach in Buxton, North Carolina, part of the Outer Banks. More specifically, this crab was found on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, approximately 1/2 a mile east from the Cape Hatteras Light House.


1)Asumbrado, A., & Martin, J. (2010, March 16). Purse Crab. Retrieved , from

1) with hyperlinks

2) University. (n.d.). Mottled Purse Crab. Retrieved , from

2) with hyperlinks

3)Merriam, W. (2014, ). Purse Crab. Retrieved , from

3) with hyperlinks

Additional Information

Almeida, C., Hyodo, M., & Cobo, J. (2012). Relative Growth, Sexual Maturity, and Breeding season of three species of the genus Persephona; A comparative study. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 93, 1581-1591.DOI: 10.1017/S002531541200197X

This study investigated the relative growth of Persephona lichtensteinii, P. meditteranea, and P. punctata on the southeastern Brazilian coast. More specifically, researchers were interested in studying the growth rates between immature and mature crab phases and the onset of sexual maturity. Breeding seasons of these species were also examined.

Machado, G., Sanchez, F., & Fortuna, M. (2013). Epibiosis in decapod crustaceans by stalked barnacle Octolasmis lowei. Zoologia, 30.

This study evaluated the infestation and distribution of stalked barnacles (Octolasmis lowei) in the branchial chambers of crabs, including Persephona punctata. The data was analyzed based on the hosts' sex, maturity stage, molt cycle and size. All infested crabs were found to be in the intermolt period and the results were able to show a relationship between epibiont infestation and host biology.

Contributed by Morgan Shultz - 2014

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