MOREHEAD CITY – Have you seen any blue land crabs?
North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries officials are asking that if you see one of these crabs, which look like enormous fiddler crabs, that you snap a photo and report the date and the location of your sighting through the online form.
There have been reports of the species in North Carolina and South Carolina. These sighting reports will help biologists learn more about where the nonnative species is spreading.
For more information on the species, visit the blue land crab profile webage.
“Blue land crabs are native to the Atlantic coast from Brazil to South Florida, but occasional sightings of the large crabs have been reported in South Carolina since 2008. The first confirmed blue land crab sighting in North Carolina occurred in the summer of 2023,” officials said Wednesday. “Researchers do not yet know the extent of the crab’s distribution throughout the Carolinas nor its impact on the environment and other wildlife. Whether the species arrived through natural expansion of its range or human-mediated sources is also not clear.”
The crabs vary in color. Adult males usually have the characteristic blue-gray coloring, but females can be white or ash-gray, and juveniles range from orangish to dark brown to purple.
Officials warn that blue land crabs are difficult to catch. In addition to their speed at retreating into burrows deep below ground, the crabs have a large claw that they can use to defend themselves. Biologists suspect the crabs may be more visible following heavy rains which can drive them out of their burrows.
For more information, contact Robert Corbett at Robert.Corbett@deq.nc.gov with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries or Bronwyn Williams Bronwyn.Williams@naturalsciences.org with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.