Intertidal Organisms EZ-ID GUIDES


on this species


Lophopanopeus bellus bellus (Black-clawed crab)

photo of black clawed crab
Copyright © 2005 Mary Jo Adams


The little black-clawed crab makes its home burrowed into the sand under rocks, and also in tidepools or among kelp holdfasts.   Its carapace is up to 1 ½ inch across and has 3 lateral spines.   Carapace color is quite variable but is often reddish-brown, gray, or purple; true to its common name, the claw tips are black.   The legs of this species sport a few fine hairs.  


Look for this species low in the intertidal along the quiet waters of bays and estuaries and also on beaches with some wave action.   It is found to a depth of 260 feet.    The black-clawed crab feeds on algae and plant material, mussels, barnacles, and other crustaceans.   Upon being picked up, this crab stiffens into a rigor mortis like state but be careful because it can suddenly revive and give you a good pinch!


The crab most likely to be confused with the black-clawed crab is the pygmy rock crab ( Cancer oregonensis ). Both are small crabs with black tipped claws.   To distinguish between the two, look for the 3 lateral teeth along the edge of the carapace of the black-clawed crab.   The pygmy rock crab carapace is more rounded, has more numerous teeth, and has very hairy legs.


This page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 12/5/05.



photo of black clawed crab

photo of black-clawed crab claw