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Helice leachi (Family Grapsidae)

Grey Shore Crab


The Grey Shore Crab has an eastern Australian distribution. It ranges from Townsville, Qld south to Sydney, NSW. (QLD, NSW)


The Grey Shore Crab is a globe-shaped, dark purple and cream coloured shore crab. It grows to a carapace width of 25-30 mm. The front edge of the carapace is not wide, and curves outwards to the eyes and beyond to the sides. The sides of the carapace become closer together at the rear half. The eyestalks are much shorter than the frontal width. The third segment of the male abdomen is much broader than the other segments. The chelae in males are very rounded, almost as high as long. The walking legs are long and slender. Felting is present on the limbs.

The carapace is dark purple in colour with cream mottling at the rear half. There is great variation in the percentage of purple to cream between individuals. Its chelae and legs are cream in colour, with purple above.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Grey Shore Crab is found in inlets and bays, not far from the river mouth. It occurs high up on the beach, near high tide level. It burrows into moderately firm soil, ranging from dirty sand and firm mud, to hard packed earth, amongst loose shale, stones and mangrove roots. The burrows are simple in construction but may have horizontal offshoots running for up to four metres, at only 10 centimetres or so below the ground surface.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Grey Shore Crab is found in many estuaries that are rivers and ports, often near human habitation. There is a potential for this species to be disadvantaged from human generated pollution. Research is required.

Other Comments:

Helice leachi. Helice comes from the Greek word helios, meaning the sun. Leachi was named after J. A. Leach; an Australian naturalist-educator who wrote "Australian Nature Studies" in the 1920's that was reprinted at least 14 times.

Further Reading:

Campbell, B. M. & Griffin, D. J. G. (1966). The Australian Sesarminae (Crustacea: Brachyura): Genera Helice, Helograpsus nov., Cyclograpsus and Paragrapsus. Mem.Qld. Mus. v.14(5), 127-74.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.57, New Holland Press, Sydney.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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