One morning in June I was wandering around the outer shores during a very low tide forecast to be -2.3 feet. You can get a sense of this in the photo below. A low tide like this always brings out a few people looking for stuff to harvest on the sandy beaches.

They’re usually looking for crabs and clams and sometimes, when they’re digging around looking for food, they unearth food for other creatures that inhabit the outer shores. That’s how I encountered the Pacific mole crab, Emerita analoga, shown in the photos below.

Pacific Mole Crab, Ventral View

Some authors call them Pacific mole crabs and some call them Pacific sand crabs, either way, they’re Emerita analoga. In the ventral view to the left, the head is pointing down and to the left. I’m not sure what sex this one is but there were no eggs present. I showed a ventral view of a female with eggs in a recent post, An Abundance of Orange. You can go there and see what you think.

Pacific Mole Crab, Dorsal View

This individual seemed a bit disoriented and was slightly injured when I encountered it. Here, the head is pointing down. You can see the dislocated lower right appendage. Nevertheless this one was ready to bury itself as soon as it got oriented. It happened so fast I was lucky to get the photos I did. They burrow rear-end first as you can see in the photo below and it happens fast. It was going, gone.

Pacific Mole Crab, Burrowing
Pacific Mole Crab, Burrowed

Whenever they are present, mole crabs and their eggs are food to predators that roam the outer shores. Surfperch love them when they can get them. I learned a lot by reading Larval dynamics of the sand crab, Emerita analoga, off the central Oregon coast during a strong El Nino period.

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