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Moon Crab

Sun, sand and surf are all that comes to mind when planning a trip to the beach. These three elements almost invariably cloud out everything else. If anything else, we might indulge in building sand-castles or perhaps long walks on the sand at sunset!

It was one such evening while walking along the water’s edge during a visit to the Devbagh Beach Resort near Karwar that I was treated to one of the most beautiful creatures that I had ever seen – probably a crab. Spines on either side of its body and legs that were flattened gave it a very non-crab appearance at first sight.

The creature that I was staring at had an almost circular body which was about 4 cm across. But the flattened appendages intrigued me and left me wondering what these adaptations could possibly mean.

The Moon Crab Matuta sp. at Devbagh, Karwar.

The Moon Crab at Devbagh, Karwar.


This was the Moon Crab (Matuta sp.), also sometimes referred to as the Sandy shore crab. It spends the day buried in sand. Its spade-like appendages are used to dig into the sand and for swimming!

When these crabs come out to forage in the night, they are known to feed on small creatures – be it worms, clams, and other small animals – that they can overpower. They also seem to have a special taste for dead fish!

Face-to-face with the Moon Crab.

Face-to-face with the Moon Crab.


Adult females have been found to be capable of producing more than one batch of eggs from a single mating with each batch containing about 65,000 eggs!

Moon Crabs have a very wide distribution. They are known to occur all the way from the Red Sea, through much of Asia to Australia where it is common in the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Poornima Kannan

    Super ! Both the crab and the post

  • http://www.natureclicks.in/ Saandip Nandagudi

    Lovely Photographs & info.. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Aishwarya


  • Vinay Narayana Swamy

    Lovely. Thanks for Sharing

  • Kesava

    No wonder they are distributed widely with 65K eggs in single mating :)

    The crab looks amazingly colored and the Face-to-face shot is super good. Looks like starring at an alien creature.


  • Shivani

    :) beautiful ! thanks for sharing all.

  • Deepa Mohan

    Never knew such creatures existed! 65,000 babies at a time sounds a bit much :)

  • Uma K

    Wow! What a beautiful crab! So unusual!

  • Ketan Pandya

    Wonderful capture and background about this beautiful creature. I believe the mortality rate must be low with such a large no of eggs they lay!

    • http://wildwanderer.com/ Karthikeyan S

      It could actually also be the other way round. They could be laying so many eggs because there is a high mortality. Just a thought to ponder over.

  • Mittal Gala

    Thanks for the info and great pictures :)