Pleuroncodes planipes


click on image for more illustrations

West coast of Baja California, Gulf of California, California Current
Pelagic swimming crabs. Larval stages are planktonic; later adults vertically migrate from the epibenthos off the continental shelf to the sea surface.
Larvae 2.6-7.2 mm; adults to 32 mm carapace length.
Adults are fed on by blue whales, porpoises, large fish, squid and sea birds.
Useful Facts or Characters: 

Commonly called "red crabs" because of their orange to red color.  Also have been referred to as "tuna crabs."  There are 5 zoeal stages characterized by large eyes, a long serrated rostrum, and elongate postero-lateral carapace spines.  It is not a true crab.

Natural History: 

Normal geographical range is off Baja California.  During warming events, especially stronger El Niño's, they can be abundant off Southern California to Central California. They occur in vast pelagic swarms and can be found washed up on local beaches in large numbers.


Boyd, C.M. (1960) The larval stages of Pleuroncodes planipes Stimpson (Crustacea, Decapoda, Galatheidae). Biological Bulletin 118: 17-30.