While visiting Point Reyes National Seashore in California, I hiked along small waterways in a cattle grazing area and saw a number of these neat crustaceans.
Typically this crab is brown-to-purple or black with green stripes. Though this color combination makes it eye-catching when seen out in the open, it also helps the crab disappear into dark, rocky crevices where it hides in sea lettuce, rock weed and bits of kelp.
Although there can be aggressive intraspecies competition over food, this creature does not keep a territory to defend. It can spend over half of its time on land and will purposely submerge to wet its gills; it can sustain itself out of water for up to 70 hours.
Striped Shore Crabs live along the West Coast of North America, from Mexico in the south, to Vancouver Island, Canada, in the north. In additional to cattle grazing fields, they reside in estuaries, tidepools, mussel beds and in the burrows they sometimes dig into sandy banks. They can sometimes be seen scuttling along shoreline rocks.
The variety of habitats where they exist mirrors the variety of foods they’ll eat. Though they feed mostly on phytoplankton growing on the water or rocks around them, they are opportunistic and will also eat animals including dead fish, limpets, snails, isopods, worms and mussels.
Striped Shore Crabs were an unexpected and fun find while on my visit to the Golden State.