Ocypode cursor

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Ocypode cursor
Ocypode cursor 1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Ocypodidae
Genus: Ocypode
Species: O. cursor
Binomial name
Ocypode cursor
(Linnaeus, 1758[1]
Synonyms [1]
  • Cancer cursor Linnaeus, 1758
  • Ocypode ippeus Olivier, 1804

Ocypode cursor, the tufted ghost crab,[2] is a species of ghost crab found on sandy beaches along the coasts of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and eastern Mediterranean Sea.


Ocypode cursor can reach a carapace width of 55 millimetres (2.2 in).[3] O. cursor can be distinguished from O. ceratophthalma and other species of Ocypode by the presence of a tuft of setae (bristles) extending from the tips of the eyestalks.[4]


Ocypode cursor has a disjunct distribution, comprising the eastern Mediterranean Sea and tropical parts of the eastern Atlantic Ocean, but not the western Mediterranean Sea which connects them. It is thought that O. cursor entered the Mediterranean Sea during a warm period, but was restricted to the warmer eastern part during a subsequent cooler period, isolating the two populations. Similar patterns are seen in the sea snail Charonia variegata and the sea anemone Telmatactis cricoides.[5] Its range is apparently expanding in the Mediterranean,[6] and it is likely that the two populations may rejoin in the future.[5] In the Atlantic Ocean, O. cursor reaches as far south as northern Namibia, but does not reach South Africa.[4]


In West Africa, Ocypode cursor prefers to live in sandy beaches, where it burrows near the high-tide mark, and sometimes above the intertidal zone altogether. It is less tolerant of extremes of salinity and temperature than the fiddler crab Uca tangeri, but can still extend some distance into brackish waters.[7] O. cursor is a predator,[7] and frequently feeds on the eggs of sea turtles.[8] In the Mediterranean Sea, where the tidal range is negligible, the burrows of O. cursor begin within 3 metres (10 ft) of the sea, with larger crabs further from the water's edge.[6]


Ocypode cursor was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae, under the name "Cancer cursor".[1]


  1. ^ a b c Charles Fransen & Michael Türkay (2012). "Ocypode cursor (Linnaeus, 1758)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Ocypode cursor". SeaLifeBase. UBC - Canada. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ Wolfgang Schneider (1990). Field Guide to the Commercial Marine Resources of the Gulf of Guinea (PDF). FAO species identification guides for fishery purposes. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization. p. 186. RAFR/FI/90/2. 
  4. ^ a b George Branch, C. L. Griffiths, M. L. Branch & L. E. Beckley (2008). Two Oceans: a Guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa. Struik. p. 96. ISBN 9781770076334. 
  5. ^ a b Carlo Nike Bianchi (2007). Biodiversity issues for the forthcoming tropical Mediterranean Sea. In G. Relini & J. Ryland. "Biodiversity in Enclosed Seas and Artificial Marine Habitats: Proceedings of the 39th European Marine Biology Symposium, held in Genoa, Italy, 21–24 July 2004". Hydrobiologia. Developments in Hydrobiology 193 (Springer) 580 (1): 7–21. doi:10.1007/s10750-006-0469-5. ISBN 9781402061554. 
  6. ^ a b P. H. Strachan, R. C. Smith, D. A. B. Hamilton, A. C. Taylor & R. J. A. Atkinson (1999). "Studies on the ecology and behaviour of the ghost crab, Ocypode cursor (L.) in northern Cyprus" (PDF). Scientia Marina 63 (1): 51–60. doi:10.3989/scimar.1999.63n151. 
  7. ^ a b Ita O. Ewa-Oboho (1993). "Substratum preference of the tropical estuarine crabs, Uca tangeri Eydoux (Ocypodidae) and Ocypode cursor Linne (Ocypodidae)". Hydrobiologia 271 (2): 119–127. doi:10.1007/BF00007548. 
  8. ^ Castro Barbosa, Annette Broderick & Paulo Catry (1998). "Marine Turtles in the Orango National Park (Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau)". Marine Turtle Newsletter 81: 6–7.