I have two answers for you here – Mole Crabs or Sand Hoppers.
Unfortunately, not all crabs are as interesting in appearance or function as the great Atlantic Horseshoe Crab, but the mole crab has some merit.
Mole Crabs, or one type of sand fleas thingees, are properly referred to as Emerita analoga. A pretty dignified, but boring sounding Latin name – rather appropriate for the critters too.
Here is why:
- They look like tiny lobsters, but are more closely linked to hermit crabs.
- At low tide they are quite the efficient tunnelers and use their back legs to dig down to six inches and wait for the next high tide.
These little guys truly are harmless. Sand hoppers, or the other type of sand flea thingees, are properly referred to as Orchestia. They are most often found in clumps of rotting seaweed – which they eat. They resemble small shrimp and are about a half an inch long and “hop” by using their tails and last three sets of legs.
Do you have another great question? Check out www.beachchairscientist.com and enter your request!