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The Seashore

The Masked Crab (Corystes cassivelaunus)

The Masked Crab (Corystes cassivelaunus)

A very distinctive crab which is the only member of its genus. This species is usually found on the lower shore and shallow sublittoral of sandy shores. Its carapace is about 1.5 times as long as it is wide with four pairs of teeth along each side. Its most obvious feature however is the long pair of hairy antennae which point directly forwards from between its eyes. These antennae are capable of locking together to form a snorkel which is used to obtain oxygenated sea water. This is invaluable to the crab which spends most of its time buried beneath the sand looking for its prey such as worms, bivalves and other smaller crustaceans. If the crab is removed from the sand it can quickly rebury itself by rapidly digging with its legs. However, despite its ability to dig, this species is often washed up in large numbers after storms. Breeding usually takes place in June or July.


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