7 Facts on the Ghost Crabs of Xcalak

Ever watched a beach dog flip out and start frantically digging a hole in the sand? We see it happen twice a day.

Xcalak is home to the secretive Ghost Crab,

…and in Xcalak, the rescue dogs we care for LOVE chasing crabs.

As you’re walking up the Xcalak beach, keep an eye out for these cute ghoulish crustaceans. Here are 7 facts to help you find (and appreciate) them when you’re in Xcalak.

  1. Deep Diggers. Ghost crabs burrow tunnels in the sand up to 4 feet deep. This is their home, where they hide, staying cool and moist during the day. To find the entrance look for a hole in the sand about the size of a silver dollar.
  2. Stereotype Smashers. When you find a ghost crab hole in Xcalak, look at the sand near the entrance. Male ghost crabs are neat and tidy. They create orderly piles of sand outside their tunnels when digging. The females, however, are slobs who chuck their sand in all directions.
  3. Colorless Crawlers. Ghost crabs are a pale, almost translucent, color (which lets them blend in with the sand). This anemic coloring is how they earned their ghost name
  4. Everything Eaters. As scavengers, ghost crabs eat the debris and dead critters they find on the beach. Also predators, they hunt for eggs and other small prey (such as clams).
  5. Moisture Managers. Crabs need sea water (or wet sand) to moisten their gills. A watertight exoskeleton keeps them from drying out when they venture inland.
  6. Bottom Bathers. Male and female ghost crabs walk along the bottom of the sea, as they can’t swim. But the females have an advantage – they can float… but only upside down.
  7. Nightly Ninjas. A ghost crab’s life doesn’t start till dark. While the seabirds (who eat them) sleep, ghost crabs are busy re-digging tunnels, searching for food, or finding a lover.

Cute as can be, ghost crabs are fun to watch. Especially the tunnel-digging females (they look around so guiltily before throwing their sand willy nilly).

ghost crab holes by male female

To see the ghost crabs of Xcalak, sit by the shore at dusk. Crabs have great eyesight and can sense vibrations. So bring a chair, a cerveza, and sit quietly. You’ll know they’re around when you see the sand go flying.

Discover one more classic creature of Xcalak: the black spiny-tailed iguana