When you dig your toes into the sand where the waves wash in, you may feel a mole crab digging to find its way back to its sandy home.
Photo courtesy of the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory
Also called Mole Crabs, Beach Fleas, Sand Bugs, Sand crabs and Sand Fiddlers, the Atlantic Sand crab is a small (1 inch in length or less), gray-tan colored crab with very short legs that they use to dig down backwards into the sand. Found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, this mole-like crab will burrow backwards into the sand and extend its antennae aboveground. This enables it to snag and filter algae and plankton as the waves wash overhead. Its sandy color keeps it camouflaged, allowing it to hide from predators such as shorebirds and gulls, Blue and Ghost crabs, and some fish. Some surf fishermen use this crab as bait for Pompano, Redfish, Sheepshead, and Whiting.