Living and feeding on the rocks just above the sea spray, these delightful little Sally Lightfoot crabs captured the attention of Charles Darwin during his voyages to the Galapagus Islands. They remain there today—as well as on rocky Pacific and Atlantic coastlines—presenting their charm and beauty for open eyes and minds to see.
Many have spoken of them—John Steinbeck in The Log from the Sea of Cortez, for one:
“In fact, everyone who has seen them has been delighted with them. The very name they are called by reflects the delight of the name. These little crabs, with brilliant cloisonné carapaces, walk on their tiptoes. They have remarkable eyes and an extremely fast reaction time [and] are exceedingly hard to catch.
“They seem to be able to run in any of four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. They escape the long-handled net, anticipating from what direction it is coming. If you walk slowly, they move slowly ahead of you in droves. If you hurry, they hurry. When you plunge at them, they seem to disappear in a puff of blue smoke—at any rate, they disappear. It is impossible to creep up on them.
“They are very beautiful, with clear brilliant colors, red and blues and warm browns.”
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Sally Lightfoot crabs, Galapagus Islands, photo by Mary O’Connor © 2013