Key West Crabs
Crabs are a staple of the ocean, especially in the waters of the north Atlantic, like Key West. If you're snorkeling or diving in this area, here are the types of crabs you're most likely to encounter:
Bering and Blackeye Hermit Crabs
By far the most common crabs of the Key West, these are small, inoffensive creatures with black eyes and brown and orange markings. They're usually found lounging on soft surfaces like kelp beds and underwater grasses. While their bright glossy eyes can make them seem intimidating, they're really more interested in leisure than danger, and they'll leave you alone if you do the same.
Blue-Legged Hermit Crab
As the name suggests, blue-legged hermit crabs have bright blue legs with red bands. They're big eaters, almost always shifting through the sand in search of their favorite meals of seaweed and green hair algae. If you miss them during your dive, you can spot them in aquariums worldwide, because their coloring makes them quite popular.
Long-Clawed Porcelain Crab
Reddish brown and with spooky appendages, the long-clawed porcelain crab is the kind you're used to seeing in cartoons. The good news is that they're thoroughly uninterested in humans as long as you don't disturb them, so cautious snorkelers won't have to worry about seeing their long claws firsthand.
Stone crabs are an oddity. While they don't look especially fierce, they have no problems taking on oysters, mollusks and even other crustaceans for dinner. Despite this aggressiveness, they also have well-honed preservation instincts that allow them to shed their own limbs when fleeing from predators and then later re-grow them. If you happen to see a crab without the right number of claws, it's probably a stone crab in the middle of autotomy.
Long-Clawed Hermit Crab
Small and elusive, these crabs are rare gems of Key West diving scene. They measure only half an inch (.5") side-to-side and their unusual shapes mean they're often mistaken for rocks and seashells. Finding these crabs are a real treat, so appreciate it when it happens!