There are over 6,000 species of crabs scattered across the planet, and most of their lives are spent on the ocean floor with various marine species. The most common crabs can be the same size as your hand, but the biggest one can stretch for up to 15 inches long and legs that span 9 to 12 feet from pitcher to pincher, which is the Japanese spider crab.
Most crabs can also be found on the world's coastal, shore, freshwater, and river areas. Each of them may be different from the others, but they do have some similarities in their diet. If you want to know what crabs eat in the ocean, we will list each one below.
Dive Deeper Into What Do Crabs Eat In The Ocean
Crabs' Way Of Hunting?
If you want to know what crabs eat in the ocean, you must know first how to hunt as it is the only means that they can eat their food, right? Depending on the size of the crab, they primarily feed on smaller crabs, crustaceans, and other small fishes.
For example, the Dungeness crab primarily thrives on colder temperatures, and they eat just about anything they come across, from starfish, crabs, squids, and worms, to name a few.
Some other crabs also eat fish, eggs, snails, or even eat their kind if need be. Other crabs that bask on the land are scavengers who feed on dead animals, small species of birds, and plants. Scavenging crabs can eat about any dead matter settling on the ocean floor or inland.
What do Crabs Eat?
Crabs are omnivorous creatures. Some eat a diverse diet consisting of seaweeds, worms, shrimp, algae, and many more. Larger crab species tend to have a diet consisting of crabs, mussels, small fishes, and squids.
Some species of crabs can also take down hard foods such as barnacles, sand dollars, and even starfish. Crab’s diet is highly dependent on what type of crab species they are, some species are only carnivorous, and some are omnivores.
Other Crabs and Their Diet
In this portion, you will get a better understanding of what crabs eat.
Dungeness Crabs – known for their sweetness when served in a platter, the Dungeness crab is mainly found in Dungeness, Washington. They thrive on colder waters and can eat about everything they come across.
They prefer a sandy and muddy habitat as they can easily hide their way through finding their meal. Dungeness crabs scour through the ocean floor looking for food, and they can also scavenge as dead matter drifts onto the ocean floor.
Blue Crabs – blue crabs are mainly found in the Atlantic ocean. They reach maturity rather quickly than most species of crabs, as well as their full size in just about 12 to 18 months. When they reach adulthood, they primarily feed on snails, dead animals, fish, crustaceans, and a lot more. They are also found to eat their kind and love to eat live plants.
King Crab – the King Crab, is one of the biggest species of crab to ever exist on the planet. One of the most popular King Crab is the Alaskan King Crab that lives in colder regions of the Bering Sea up to the Gulf of Alaska.
When king crabs are young, they feed on ascidians and bryozoans, and when they mature, they traverse through the deeper regions of the water, joining fellow mature king crabs in search of food. Alaskan king crabs have a diet consisting of sand dollars, barnacles, clams, mussels, worms, sea urchins, and snails, to name a few.
Snow Crab – known as the Queen Crab, the snow crab, can almost be found in any water region in the planet, from the Arctic, Atlantic, and in the Pacific, and is known to be one of the longest living species of crabs that live up to 20 years.
These crabs are popular because of how tasty and rich their flavors are, but they primarily feed on sea-dwelling creatures such as gastropods, bivalves, brittle stars, worms, crustaceans, and small types of fish.
Interesting Crab Facts
Crabs are called decapods because they have ten legs. Their legs have similar functionality to a spider's as their joints can bend too.
What makes crabs a good predator is that their eyes are located on the stalks, providing them good vision whenever their bodies are buried in the sand or just underwater. It is also studied that their eyes are made up of hundreds of lenses.
The two frontal legs are called claws, and they aren’t used for movements and are called pincers. Their hind legs are primarily used for walking on the ocean floor and help them paddle up through the water.
The claws of the male crabs are often colored blue, whereas females have red-colored claws. So, if you happen to come across crabs out on the shore, be sure to look at these characteristics so you would identify their gender.
Crabs live in bodies of water, and they can live in the ocean or freshwater bodies such as streams, rivers, and saltwater lakes. Certain species of crabs prefer living on land, especially in tropical regions of the planet.
The robber crab and coconut crab come to mind when you talk about crabs who live on land rather than water. One of the largest arthropods that live on land is the coconut crab.
Wrapping Things Up
Crabs are one of the oldest living creatures on the planet, dating back to the Jurassic period. Since then, they have changed and are still unique and loveable creatures of their kind.
So, what do crabs eat? A lot of food goes into the diet of common crabs, but they all have a similar way of eating and hunting patterns.
Lastly, crabs are intelligent creatures, and they are key in keeping the food chain of various marine systems balanced. Let’s hope they will not be endangered for centuries to come as they are a vital food source for various marine creatures as well.
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