G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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is a si run-, pointed tooth, projecting directly outward, and forming the commencement of the
postero-lateral margins, which are long and slope abruptly backward so as to leave but a narrow
l"iMi-rior margin. The surface of the carapax is slightly convex, undulated, and covered with
; the claws are strongly toothed above and ribbed at the sides.



T1JK HOCK Cl.'AIJ OF Till: I'ACIKIC. 771

Tliis sja'c-ies has quite an extended range, having been recorded from Sitka, Alaska, in the
north, Mini from Magdalena Hay, Lower California, in the south; but whether these are il< eMieme
iinrthfrn and southern limits or not is unknown. In iln- l'.;i\ ni San Francisco it is very abundant,
and large quantities are constantly captured and brought to the markets in that city; it is also
taken lor food in Monterey Hay, California.

It occurs most eoniinonly on the sandy bottoms, below low-tide level, and is seldom found, at
least to any extent, between tide-marks. The supplies sent to the San Francisco markets come
mainly from the San Francisco side of the bay, especially from the south side of the Golden Gate,
between the city and the sea. They are also taken in abundance from about thewharves and piers
in the Bay of San Francisco. Crab-nets baited with fish and ofl'al are used for catching them.
Nothing is known regarding the spawning season and habits of this species. The fishermen say
they spawn in March or April. The occurrence of a female with spawn in the San Francisco
market has not yet been recorded by any naturalist.

THE RED CRAB CANCER PRODUCTUS, Randall.

This is a very common species in the Bay of San Francisco, although less abundant than the
last (Cancer magister). It also attains a large size, adult individuals measuring from five to seven
or more inches in breadth across the earn pax, and from two and a half to four inches in length.
The proportion of width to length is rather greater in the males than in the females. The antero-
lateral borders of the carapax form an ellipse, broken in the center in front by a slight projection,
by which the specific name was suggested. The teeth of the front and of the antero-lateral bor-
ders arc distinctly separate in the adult, but in the very young exist only as wrinklings of the
edge of the carapax. The postero-Iateral margins are concave and short. The claws are of
medium size compared with the carapax, and the posterior limbs are slender and plain. The color
of adult specimens is an intense dark red or reddish-brown above and yellowish-white below ; the
young differ from the adults in their more variable coloring, some being of a dark reddish-
brown, others yellow spotted with red, and still others banded with red and yellow. The shape of
the carapax, with its produced front, sufficiently distinguishes this species of Cancer from all the
others on the Pacific coast.

Cancer productu* is found along the entire Pacific coast of the United States, and haa been
recorded from Magdalena Bay, Lower California, and the Qneen Charlotte's Islands and other
localities, in British Columbia. It is very abundant in the Bays of San Francisco, Monterey, and
Tomales, and also occurs at Santa Barbara and San Diego. Its habitat is in the shallow water
along the shores, principally in rocky sections, and it is frequently found between tide-marks,
often taking refuge in pools under stones near low-tide level.

Stimpson, in 1856, recorded seeing this species in the San Francisco markets, but it is no
longer taken there, unless by accident or inadvertence, the larger and more abundant Cancer
mi/ixt<r fully supplying the demands. In case of the latter becoming scarce, however, Cancer
lirnil iictus would become an important article of capture.

THE ROCK CRAB OF THE PACIFIC COAST CANCER ANTENNARIUS, Stimpson.

This species is of about the same average size as Cancer prixlm-tn*. and is tolerably abundant
along the Pacific coast, from Queen Charlotte's Islands, in the north, to Magdalena Bay, Lower
California, in the south. Although as regards edible qualities it is said to compare favorably
with Cancer mayttter, it has not, up to the present time, been brought to the San Francisco
markets. The carapax of adult specimens measures three and a half or more inches in length,



772 NATURAL H1STCKY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

and from five to six iuches across. The carpus and hand of the big claws are smooth or nearly
so, and the external antennae are very large and hairy. The margins of the abdomen and of
other parts of the lower surface of the body, as well as the ambulatory feet, are very hairy, and
this character, together with the great length and hairiness of the antenna?, serves as the best
distinguishing feature of the species. Young individuals are more hirsute thau adults. The
color of the carapax is a dark purplish brown ; the chelipeds in adults are marbled with purplish
spots.

The Pacific Rock Grab does not often occur on the shore between tides; it appears to frequent
deeper water than either Cancer magister or C. productus, being abundant in from two to three
fathoms, always, however, among rocks.

THE MUD GRABS PANOPEUS HEEBSTII, Edwards; PANOPEUS DEPRESSES, Smith; PANOPEUS

SAYI, Smith ; PANOPEUS HARBISII, Stimpson.

Four species of the so-called Mud Crabs occur upon our Atlantic coast: Panopeus Herbstii
ranges from Long Island Sound to Brazil, but is not common north of New J ersey ; P. depressus,
from Cape Cod to Florida, and often carried much farther north with oysters; P. Sayi, associated
with the last and having the same range; P. Harrisii, from Massachusetts Bay to Florida.
P. Herbstii is rather the larger species, specimens from Florida and the West Indies measuring
fully two inches across the back. The color is a dark olive above, the fingers of the claws being
black, though lighter at the tips. This species is occasionally sold as food in the New Orleans
markets, and is sometimes used as bait. The other three species are more or less abundant in
numerous localities where they could also be obtained as bait. Professor Verrill refers to them
as follows :

"Two small kinds of Crabs are very abundant under the stones, especially where there is some
mud. These are dark olive-brown and have the large claws broadly tipped with black. They
are often called Mud Crabs on account of their fondness for muddy places. One of these, the
Panopeus depressus, is decidedly flattened above, and is usually a little smaller than the second,
the Panopeus Sayi, which is somewhat convex above. They are usually found together and have
similar habits. A third small species of the same genus is occasionally met with under stones,
but lives rather higher up toward high- water mark, and is comparatively rare. This is the
Panopeus Harrisii. It can be easily distinguished, for it lacks the black on the ends of the big
claws and has a groove along the edge of the front of the carapax, between the eyes. This last
species is also found in the salt marshes, and was originally discovered on the marshes of the
Charles River, near Boston. All the species of Panopeus are southern forms, extending to Florida,
or to the Gulf coast of the Southern States, but they are rare north of Cape Cod, and not found
at all on the coast of Maine. They contribute largely to the food of the tautog and other
fishes." 1

THE STONE CRAB MENIPPE MERCENARIUS, Gibbes.

This is one of the two edible species of Crabs occurring upon the Southern Atlantic coast of
the United States, Oallinectes hastatus being the other and more important one, on account of its
greater abundance. The recorded range of the Stone Crab is from Charleston Harbor, South
Carolina, to Key West, Florida, but the so-called Stone Crabs of the Gulf of Mexico probably
belong, in part at least, to the same species, and it has also been recently collected on the coast
of North Carolina.

'Vineyard Sound Report, pp. 312, 313, 1871-'72.



DISTRIBUTION OF TUB STOM! KAl:. 773

The Stone Crab is much stouter and heavier thau the Blue Crab, of more solid build, and
with a much thicker shell-covering both on the body and claws. There is, moreover, no similarity
between the two species. The carapax of adult individuals measures about three inches in length
by about four and a half inches in width, and the body is from one and a half to two inches thick.
The large claws, when folded against the front of the body, measure about seven inches fiom
elbow to elbow. One claw is somewhat larger than the other.

Prof. Lewis R. Gibbes has kindly furnished the following notes on the habits of this species
as observed in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina:

They live in holes in the mud along the borders of the creeks and estuaries of the coast,
and are taken by the hand, thrust down several inches, sometimes fifteen to twenty, to reach the
inhabitant at the bottom, at the risk of a severe bite from one or both of its claws. They can
aKo he found in the crevices between fragments of any solid material, occurring near their haunts,
such as rejected stone ballast, fragments of brick thrown out as waste from houses or other
stiuetures in the city or vicinity. Again, they occur in similar situations along the breakwater,
constructed some forty years ago to protect a part of the front beach of Sullivan's Island, at the
month of the harbor, from the destructive action of the waves. They offer a stout resistance to
being dragged from their chosen retreat, by firmly pressing their powerful claws against the walls
of their abode. From their holes in the mud they are drawn with some difficulty, with a quantity
of the mud adhering to them ; and if the walls of their retreat are solid, and cannot be removed
from around them, they cling to them with such tenacity that not unfrequently they are brought
out piecemeal, first one claw, then the other, and finally the body."

Professor Gibbes further states that the Stone Crabs are highly esteemed as food, and preferred
to the Blue Crab, as the meat of their large claws is more lobster-like in texture and flavor.
From the difficulty of capturing them, however, they are much less common in the markets than
the Blue Crab, and command a higher price. They are also apparently less abundant. Like the
Blue Crab, they are constant dwellers upon our coast, and could doubtless be taken at all times
daring the year. Soft-shelled specimens are seldom if ever brought to market.

In the Gulf of Mexico, according to Mr. Silas Stearns, the Stone Crab is not so universally
common as the Blue Crab, although it is found along the entire coast. It seems to be most
abundant on the southern and western coasts of Florida where the bottom, being more rocky than
elsewhere, is best suited to its habits. In this section it lives in cavities in the rocks, and in deep
holes which it excavates in the sand. It attains a laYger size than the Blue Crab, measuring in
adult species one or two inches more across the carapax than the latter species. The people
living upon the coast where the Stone Crab is so abundant and so large esteem it highly, and
regard it as an important food supply. Owing to the persistent way in which it keeps on the
bottom, and in its hiding places, it cannot be captured as easily as the other species. The most
common method of capture is, after finding its hole or place of retreat, to run the hand and arm
down quickly and drag it out. To one unversed in this practice it seems a dangerous operation,
but it is not so. The crab lies in its hole with its claws uppermost or outermost, and considering
its well-known slowness and clumsiness of action, a man's strong grip finds no difficulty in
controlling them. In other parts of the Gulf, away from the Florida coast, visited by Mr. Stearns,
he did not find the Stone Crabs nearly so abundant. They were mostly confined to oyster beds
and stone heaps, and were inferior in size to the Florida specimens.

As the Stone Crabs generally live more or less buried beneath the bottom, their movements
are probably less affected by tides and changes of temperature than the Blue Crabs. They have
never appeared for sale in the markets of any of the larger cities and towns of the Gulf coast, on



774 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

account of the difficulty of procuring them. By those who have eaten them they are considered
decidedly superior to the Blue Crab in flavor.

THE GREEN CRAB CARCINTTS M^ENAS, Leach.

This Crab, which is one of the most common species on the coast of Great Britain, also
abounds upon our Atlantic coast, from Cape Cod to New Jersey and perhaps farther south. It is
very abundant in Vineyard Sound, Buzzard's Bay, and Long Island Sound. The body is of a
bright-green color, varied with spots and blotches of yellow, making it very conspicuous; adult
specimens measure about two inches in width and one and a half inches in length. The surfaces
of the carapax and limbs are more or less granulated.

" The Green Crab, Carcinus manas, occurs quite frequently well up toward high-water mark,
hiding under the loose stones, and nimbly running away when disturbed. It may also be found,
at times, in the larger tidal pools. It often resorts to the holes and cavernous places under the
peaty banks of the shores, or along the small ditches and streams cutting through the peaty
marshes near the shore." l

It is most abundant between tide-marks, or near low-water mark, and is seldom found below
a very few fathoms in depth.

The Green Crab is an article of food in some parts of Europe, where it occurs abundantly. In
England it is occasionally used as bait, especially while in a soft-shell state. It is said to be often
very annoying to the salmon fishermen in that country. " Trout and mackerel are reduced to
skeletons in a very short time, and grilse and salmon often rendered unfit for market by an
unseemly scar, the work of these marauders." 2

In this country, the Green Crab is frequently used as bait on the Southern New England
coast, especially for the tautog. In Vineyard Sound and Buzzard's Bay it is known to the
fishermen as the " Joe Rocker."

THE LADY CRAB PLATYONICHUS OCELLATUS, Latreille.

The "Lady Crab," or " Sand Crab," is abundant on nearly all our sandy shores from Cape Cod
to Florida, and in the Gulf of Mexico ; it ranges from low-water mark to a depth of ten fathoms.
This species is easily distinguished from all our other Crabs by the shape and color of its carapax,
taken in connection with the character of its posterior pair of limbs, which are modified into
swimming organs, as in the edible Crab. Its body is nearly as long as broad, the margins rudely
indicating a six-sided figure. The front lateral margins bear five spines each, which are directed
forward, and the front margin is deeply indented on each side of a slightly projecting three-
spined rostrum, to form cavities for the eyes. The front limbs, those bearing the claws, are long
and rather slender, and the succeeding three pairs are simple in their structure. " The color of
this Crab is quite bright and does not imitate the sand on which it lives, probably owing to its
mode of concealment. The ground-color is white, but the back is covered with annular spots
formed by specks of red and purple. The Lady Crab is perfectly at home among the loose sands
at low-water mark, even on the most exposed beaches. It is also abundant on sandy bottoms off
shore, and as it is furnished with swimming organs on its posterior legs, it can swim rapidly in
the water, and Ihis been taken at the surface in several instances, and some of the specimens thus
taken were of full size. When living at low-water mark on the sand beaches, it generally buries
itoelf up to its eyes and antennae in the sand, watching for prey, or on the lookout for enemies.
If disturbed, it quickly' glides backward and downward into the sand and disappears instantly.



I, : Vim-yard Sound Report, p. 312, 1871-'72.
* WHITE: Popular History of the British Crustacea.



TiiK KIMlll.K < IIAK. 775

Tills power of quickly burrowing deeply into tlic sand it possesses in eoiniiion with all the other
marine aiiini;ils o!' every class which inhabit the exposed beaches of loose sand, tor upon tin's
habit their very existence depends during storms. By burying I heinselves deep they arc be\ond
the reach of breakeis.

'The Lady Crab is predaceous in its habits, feeding n\mn various smaller creatures, but, like
moM of the Crabs, it i.s also fond of dead lishes or any other dead animals. In some localities
the\ are so abundant that a dead fish or shark will iu a short time be completely covered with
them; but if a person should approach they will all suddenly slip off backwards and quickly
disappear in every direction beneath the sand. After a short time, if everything be quiet,
immense numbers of eyes and an ten me will be gradually and cautiously protruded from beneat h
the sand, and after their owners have satisfied themselves that all is well the army of Crabs will
soon appear above the sand again and continue their operations." '

This species is used as bait on many parts of the coast, especially about Vineyard Sound
and Buxxard's May. It is also an important article of food at New Orleans, Louisiana, and is
occasionally taken to the New York markets.

222. THE COMMON EDIBLE OK BLUE CRAB CALLINECTES HA8TATU8, Ordway.

DISTRIBUTION. The common edible Crab of the eastern coast of the United States, generally
termed "Blue Crab" at the North and "Sea Crab" at the South, ranges from Cape Cod to Florida,
and also occurs iu the Gulf of Mexico, and is occasionally taken in Massachusetts Bay. Next to
the Lobster, it is the most important crustacean of our waters in a. commercial point of view.
There are several species of the genns Callinectes living upon the coast of the Southern States.
CnlUni'i-ti-x linxtiitn.1, the genuine Blue Crab, is positively known to occur as far south as Louis-
iana, and is probably the only species brought to the New York markets. Callinectex ornatu*
inhabits Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and extends southward from there, but to what
extent has not been determined. Two other species, Callinectes larratus and . tumidim, have
been recorded from Southern Florida and the West Indies. Which of these four species occurs
in the greatest abundance in the Gulf of Mexico, and is there most commonly taken for food, we
are unable to state, as no careful examination of market supplies from that region ha ever been
made.

EXTERNAL CHARACTERS. The shell of the Blue Crab is about twice as broad as long,
including the stout, sharp spines which project from each side. Between the spine of each side
and the eye of that side the margin is armed with about eight short and acute spines, which are
largest at the side and gradually decrease in size toward the eye. Between the eyes, which are
placed in slight recesses, the margin forms four broad, unequal-sided teeth, with a median spiiie
underneath. The front limbs, including the claws, are similar in shape but somewhat unequal in
si/.e; they have several strong sharp spines above. The three succeeding pairs of limbs are
slender, similar to one another, and terminate in sharp points. The posterior pair, however, end
in an expanded oval joint, especially adapted for swimming. The entire body of this species i.s
considerably compressed, the carapax being only moderately convex above; the surface, excepting
near the posterior margin, is covered with minute granulations, which are more numerous over
some portions than over others. The entire margin of the carapax and abdomen is bordered with
flue hairs, and most of the joints of the limbs are ornamented iu the same way.

The abdomen of the female is very broad, and when not charged with eggs fills in the entire

VERBII.L: Vineyard Sound Report, p. 338,



776 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

space between the bases of the posterior pairs of legs. During the spawning season, however, the
eggs are so numerous and form such a large mass that they throw the abdomen some distance out
from the lower surface of the body, causing it to project almost at right angles with the upper
surface of the carapax. The upper surface of the shell and claws is of a dark-green color, and
the lower surface of a dingy white ; feet blue; tips of fingers and spines reddish.

HABITS, USES, ETC. The following account of the habits of the Blue Crab is by Professor
Verrill:

"The common edible Crab or 'Blue Crab' is a common inhabitant of muddy shores, especially
in sheltered coves and bays. It is a very active species, and can swim rapidly. It is, therefore,
often seen swimming at or near the surface. The full-grown individuals generally keep away from
the shores, in shallow water, frequenting muddy bottoms, especially among the eel-grass, and are
also found in large numbers in the somewhat brackish waters of estuaries and the mouths of
rivers. The young specimens of all sizes, up to two or three inches in breadth, are, however, very
frequent along the muddy shores, hiding in the grass and weeds or under the peaty banks at high
water and retreating as the tide goes down. When disturbed they swim away quickly into deeper
water. They also have the habit of pushing themselves backward into and beneath the mud for
concealment. They are predaceous in their habits, feeding upon small fishes and various other
animal food. They are very pugnacious, and have remarkable strength in their claws, which they
use with great dexterity. When they have recently shed their shells they are caught in great
numbers for the markets, and these 'soft-shelled Crabs' are much esteemed by many. Those with
hard shells are also sold in our markets, but are not valued so highly. This Crab can easily
be distinguished from all the other species found in this region by the sharp spine on each side of
the carapax. . . . They are usually brought to market early in May, but the 'soft-shelled'
ones, which are more highly esteemed, are taken later. These soft-shelled individuals are merely
those that have recently shed their old shells, while the new shell has not had time to harden.
The period of shedding seems to be irregular and long continued, for soft-shelled Crabs are taken
nearly all summer. The young and half-grown specimens of this Crab may often be found in
considerable numbers hiding in the holes and hollows beneath the banks during the flood tide.
When disturbed, they swim away quietly into deeper water. These small Crabs are devoured by
many of the larger fishes. During flood tide the large Crabs swim up the streams like many fishes
and retreat again with the ebb. They feed largely on fishes, and often do much damage by eating
fishes caught in set-nets, frequently making large holes in the nets at the same time." 1

Besides devouring living animals, the Blue Crab "feeds on dead animal matter in its various
stages of putrescence, and is one of the many depurators of the ocean. It often buries itself in
the sand, so that no part is visible but the eyes and anterior antennae ; these last are then in
continual motion, the bifid terminal joint acting as forceps to seize and convey to its mouth the
small molluscous animals for food. The shell is cast annually, and they are then known by the
name of 'soft shell Crab,' are very delicate, and in particular request for the table. In this state
the Crab is incapable of any defense from its enemies; the male usually retires to a secluded
situation for security, but the adult female is protected by a male whose shell is hard. They are
then called double Crabs."*

On different parts of the coast, Crabs in the soft state are known respectively as "Soft Crabs,"
" Sheddere," or "Peelers." The terms "Soft Crab," "Paper-shell," and "Buckler" denote the
different stages of consistency of the shell, from the time of shedding until it has become nearly

'Vineyard Sonnd Report, pp. 307, 3G8, 4G8, 1871-'72.
'SAY: Jounu Acad. Nat Sci. 1'hila., i, p. 66, 1817.



BREEDING HABITS OF TOE EDIBLE CEAB. 777

hard again. For instance, immediately after shedding it is a " Soft Crab"; as the shell becomes
slightly hardened it is called "Paper-shell," and just before reaching its normal hardness it ia
termed "Buckler." .

Callincctcs hastatus does not appear to be confined to salt and brackish water only, for it has
been known to ascend the Saint John's River, Florida, a distance of one hundred miles, to where
the water is sufficiently fresh for drinking.

According to Prof. Lewis R. Gibbes, of Charleston, South Carolina, the Blue Crab is abundant
in and about Charleston Harbor, and is largely taken for food. Average-sized specimens measure
about two and a half inches long and five to five and a half broad, including the lateral spines.



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 128 of 146)