Ocypode quadrata

Ocypode quadrata (J. C. Fabricius, 1787)

Common Names

Atlantic ghost crab (English)

Languages: English


Comprehensive Description

Atlantic Ghost Crabs (Ocypode quadrata) are small crabs (up to around 50 mm) with squarish sand-colored shells having margins that are finely beaded but toothless; the claws are white. The space between the eyes is much shorter than the eyestalks. These crabs dig burrows above the intertidal zone on ocean beaches from Delaware (U.S.A.) through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. They are occasionally found north to eastern Long Island and Rhode Island, but are uncommon north of Virginia. Atlantic Ghost Crabs are very active and can often be seen dashing into the retreating surf to wet their gills or to grab scraps of food ("Ocypode" means "swift-footed"), although they will drown if kept submerged. Young crabs burrow just above the intertidal zone, but adults dig their burrows higher up, sometimes even behind the forward dunes. Burrows have a single opening and descend 0.6 to 1.2 meters at a 45 degree angle. Although these crabs are often out and about during the day, they are most active at night.  (Gosner 1978)

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo


  • Ocypode albicans (synonym)


Gosner, K. L. (1978).  A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.