Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sand Crab Monitoring Project Day 1

Here's a quick overview of our Sand Crab Monitoring Project. This is the second major project of the year. We're still working on getting our Seashore Guide to press... don't worry, it'll happen sooner or later!

This is what we're after: Emerita analoga. These creatures are also known as the Pacific Mole Crab or, even more commonly, the sand crab. These are late season females that Carson Burns showed us how to capture using our hands.

Carson was definitely the "Crab Master" today. Interestingly, we found more sand crabs around the pier than anywhere else....

Christina and TPS are excited by the crabs. In class, we learned how to sex the crabs (determine if they are boys or girls) and how to measure them. We also learned about crab anatomy; anybody know what a pleopod is?

Catching mole crabs involves getting wet. We learned that the crabs live in an area of the intertidal called the swash zone. This is the area from the farthest reach of the wave-water to the lowest reach of the receding wave. Believe me, if you're doing it right, you're getting splashed and wet.

All kinds of beach visitors and tourists came up to us to ask about what we were doing. It was our chance to be "science ambassadors" on the beach. It was interesting to learn that very few people had any idea about mole crabs- most of them were amazed by them.