Article and photo by Kyle Sweet, superintendent of The Sanctuary Golf Club
The Mangrove Tree Crab can be found all along the barrier islands of Southwest Florida and may at first glance look like a spider climbing along our native Red, Black and White Mangroves. As crabs go, they are very small, only being an average of an inch across. Their coloration greatly varies from olive green to brown and have very sharp tips on the ends of their legs that allow them to efficiently climb all throughout the trees. Mangrove tree crabs are quite a survival story in that less than 1% of the larvae of the Mangrove Tree Crab make it to become juvenile crabs and less than 20% of those actually mature to adult crabs. Even after becoming adults, due to their small size, they are very susceptible to predators. In order to overcome these survival difficulties, the female Mangrove Tree Crab will carry as many 35,000 fertilized eggs on her belly until ready to deposit them in the water, which occurs multiple times annually.