A Lesser Sponge Crab?

Last week while we were looking for shells on Pensacola Beach we found a really interesting little crab in the surf.

My Dad picked him up, we looked at him for a minute, I (the famous wildlife photographer)snapped 2 pictures, Dad released him, and off we went.

We were on our way to meet cousins for lunch and didn't give the little crab much thought.

He came up again at lunch though, and we passed his picture around for everyone to see. He was round and had bright red pinchers - something you'd recognize if you'd seen it before.

Bells should have gone off when NO ONE at the table recognized him. Every person at that table is a Pensacola native and every one of them have been on the water since birth.

But none have ever seen this kind of crab before.

But the bells didn't go off because they brought our lunch, which was delicious, and there were people to visit with.

I thought about him again that night and spent some time on Google trying to find out what kind of crab he was.

I couldn't find anything about a round crab with red pinchers.

I sent his picture to FC and was surprised when he didn't recognize him.

My Dad sent me an email the next day telling me that he'd looked through some field guides and decided that the crab must be a Lesser Sponge Crab (Dromidia antillensis)

I checked my guides and agree with him. We found a Lesser Sponge Crab who had no sponge.

The field guide states these crabs are found from Cape Hatteras to Florida and Texas; Mexico; Bermuda; Bahamas; West Indies to Brazil.

Considering the fact that no one at lunch recognized him, Dad and I have never seen one, and FC wasn't familiar with him, Lesser Sponge Crabs must not be common in this part of the Gulf.

Which means that we had an encounter with a crab who washed in from Tropical Storm Lee and I didn't even take the time to get a good picture!

The next time I find something unique like that I'm going to take the time to appreciate it.

Oh, and I'm going to get someone else to take pictures.