Fiddler crabs are very tiny and they are a favorite food of Sheephead fish. We see Fiddler crabs in groups on the sandy shores of little uninhabited islands along the saltwater river. They scurry around in groups, or pop into their little holes when they see us.
Thousands of crabs hurry up into the mangroves to hide as we approach. They are very tiny and difficult to photograph. I do however have a pretty cool video – below.
During Sheepshead fishing season, local bait shops sell fiddler crabs to fishermen. Unfortunately, Sheepshead fishing is very popular because it’s good eating fish, and the crabs are often sold out. You can catch your own Fiddlers, but we never have. But we do sometimes specifically look for sheepshead. They are often found around docks and piers where they eat barnacles clinging to the pylons.
All three photos below show Fiddler crabs but they are so tiny it’s hard to make them out.
Low tide is a good time to see Fiddler crabs scurrying around the grasses and mangroves. They need the water to survive, but can’t live submerged. They scurry into little holes in the sand and hide there when the water comes up as explained at the Florida Fish and Wildlife page.
My phone doesn’t take great zoom photos, but I had to get this crab photo without scaring him into his hole. The male crabs have one large claw so I would say this is a male and these crabs are very tiny. Little piles of sand pellets are left all around the holes they make.
The Fiddler crab doesn’t have a long life span, but is an important food source for more than just crustacean loving fish.
For some reason my “Florida’s Living Beaches” (affiliate link to Amazon) reference book does not mention this type of crab. I have the first edition of this book, so they may be mentioned in the second edition. I am surprised at this omission because they are an important part of the coastal ecosystem.
My information on this page came from reliable online sources mentioned in this article. All photos are my own.