Infra-order Brachyura, Family Ocypodidae

A recent study of museum specimens of horn-eyed ghost crabs across their range in the Indo-West Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as an extensive series of specimens from Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, has been undertaken to ascertain the morphology and genetics of these crabs. The study has revealed the existence of a new Indian Ocean species and an insular form of a species that extends east to French Polynesia. Carcinologists are currently writing up these findings.

Horn-eyed ghost crab | Ocypode ceratophthalmus  (Pallas, 1772)

A medium size crab with a carapace up to 45 mm wide. Distinct extended eye stalks beyond elongated cornea. Eye stalk extensions are shorter in females and undeveloped in juveniles. Their color is variable, from creamish yellow to grayish white with front, under body parts and upper legs dark reddish brown. This species has distinctive dorsal carapace markings. They have a stridulating ridge, on the inside surface of the claws.



Found on sandy beaches. Their burrows are common from the high tide mark to 6-10 metres above.

Horn-eyed ghost crab | Ocypode sp.

A medium size crab with a carapace up to 45 mm wide. Distinct extended eye stalks beyond elongated cornea. Eye stalk extensions are shorter in females and undeveloped in juveniles. Their color is variable, from olive green and yellow to grayish white, with or without yellow on the claws and legs. This species lacks distinctive dorsal carapace markings. They have a stridulating ridge, on the inside surface of the claws.



Genetic analysis and studies of museum and fresh specimens of this horn-eyed ghost crab across its range in the Indo-West Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as an extensive series of specimens from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island, shows that this form is a distinct species. Carcinologists are currently writing up their findings and the crab will described as a new species in the near future.



Found on sandy beaches. Their burrows are common from the high tide mark to 6-10 metres above.

Read more about Christmas Island's Horn-eyed ghost crabs in the book

"Crabs of Christmas Island" by Max Orchard

Horn-eyed ghost crabs

Text and images contained in this site may be copied or reproduced for study, research, information or educational purposes, subject to inclusion of an acknowledgement of the source.

Images by Max Orchard unless indicated otherwise