Comprehensive Description

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The Atlantic sand fiddler, Uca pugilator, is one of approximately 97 species belonging to the family Ocypodidae (Rosenberg 2001). Members of this family are characterized by a thick, squarish body and herding behavior (Ruppert & Fox 1988). Male crabs also bear one greatly enlarged pincer, either right or left, for combat and mating rituals; whereas, the claws of females are roughly equal in size. Fiddler crabs share many common morphological characteristics and behaviors, but identification of species is usually easily achieved through examination of body color and claw structure. Body color of the Atlantic sand fiddler is mostly white to yellowish white, becoming paler during courtship (Crane 1975). Displaying males have a characteristic pink or purple patch on the middle of the carapace, which is often mottled brown in non-displaying males. The major cheliped (appendage bearing the major claw) of the male is yellowish white, often with pale orange at the base of the claw. The minor claw is white, and the eyestalks are buff to grayish white, never green like some similar species. Many tubercles or bumps cover the outer surfaces of the claw. However, the oblique ridge of tubercles common in several fiddler crab species is absent in U. pugilator.


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© Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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