Pugettia gracilis Dana, 1851
Common name(s): Graceful kelp crab, Kelp crab, Spider crab, Graceful rock crab, Slender kelp crab
|Synonyms: Pugettia lordii, Pugettia quadridens var gracilis|
Infraorder Brachyura (true crabs)
|A small Pugettia gracilis. Carapace width about 2.5 cm|
|(Photo by: Dave Cowles, July 2006)|
How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Pugettia richii (mostly on the open coast) has a narrower anterolateral tooth, plus does not have a distinct ridge of tubercles on the merus of the cheliped and does not have the orange and blue tips on the chelae. Oregonia gracilis has a longer rostrum, about half the length of the carapace, consisting of 2 spinelike processes instead of flattened ones. It also decorates itself, which this species usually does not do. Cancer gracilis is a cancer crab. Pugettia producta grows much larger and has a smooth dorsal carapace surface.
Geographical Range: Attu Island (Aleutian Islands, Alaska) to Monterey Bay, CA. Common in Monterey Bay.
Depth Range: Low intertidal (on rocky shores) to 140 m. Young are often among eelgrass.
Habitat: Eelgrass and kelp; both on outer coast and on protected shores. Also on pilings in strong currents.
Biology/Natural History: The spines
on the legs may help this crab hang onto the kelp and avoid being swept
off. This crab does not usually decorate itself much, but it does
so occasionally. Predators include halibut, clingfish, kelpfish,
and woolly sculpin. During mating, the male lies on its back and
the female stands above, facing him. Ovigerous females have been
found through most of the year in Puget Sound. Females have around
6200 to 13,000 eggs per brood. The long legs of this crab are especially
agile, and they can reach far above and behind them for defense.
|Main Page||Alphabetic Index||Systematic Index||Glossary|
Johnson and Snook, 1955
Morris et al., 1980
O'Clair and O'Clair, 1998
Ricketts et al., 1985
Lutts, Donald Jr., 1960. Laboratory culture methods and larval stages of Pugettia gracilis (Dana). Masters thesis, Walla Walla College. 37 pp.
A female Pugettia gracilis (one rostral horn is broken). Carapace width about 2.5 cm
The merus of the cheliped has a distinct ridge (in males), with teeth, on its dorsal surface. This is a male. See the photo below for another view.
In this view of a male the ridge on the merus of the cheliped (lighter colored in the photo above) can be clearly seen.
In females such as this individual, the ridge on the merus is more broken up.
The chelae are blue near the end, with orange or white tips.
|The abdomen of females, as in this individual, is very broad.||This female (same as the one to the left) is carrying eggs. Often
they carry more eggs than this.
Note that the females carry their eggs attached to their uropods, is is characteristic of most members of suborder Pleocyemata. Male Brachyurans don't have pleopods except for the first pair which is used in copulation.