Coastal Crabs of India — Photofeature

by S. Karthikeyan

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Crabs form an important component of coastal and mangrove ecosystems and play an important role in recycling of nutrients. However, a variety of human activities threatens the survival of coasts and mangroves on which the crabs are dependent.

A walk along the beach is something most people would enjoy. When we see crabs trying to run away from our path, often the child in us comes to the fore and we run about chasing them! It was during my first visit to Devbagh, Karwar, off the North Karnataka coast that I was taken by surprise by the beauty of coastal crabs.

Over the years, during the many visits to Devbagh, I have spent considerable time looking for crabs and also managed to photograph several of of them. It was at this juncture that I happened to meet Ms. Pradnya Bandekar (crab expert and author of ‘Diversity of crab population in mangroves of Karwar’) who readily agreed to help in the identification of the crabs from my images. I would like to thank her for all the help she extended in this process.

Crabs are a very important component of the coastal and mangrove ecosystems and use use an array of micro-habitats. They feed on the leaf litter and other organic matter and thus play an important role in recycling of nutrients. Their behaviour of digging into the sand helps better aeration of the soil.

Sea eagles, kites, waders, etc. among birds and small mammals like mongooses and shrews have crabs as part of their diet. All of these co-exist in the coastal habitat making for a vibrant and complex ecosystem. A variety of human activities threatens the survival of coasts and associated habitats on which the crabs are dependent. So, while we let our curiosity and the child in us take over, let us also be cautious, responsible and sensitive about what we do when we spend time on the beach. Let us not forget that there are others creatures that play on the beach and also call it their home!


About the author

S. Karthikeyan

S. Karthikeyan is the Chief Naturalist of Jungle Lodges & Resorts based in Bangalore.



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