||PO Box 9021,
Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
Phone: Toll-free in USA 1-888-721-3555
the Yucatan Peninsula
and Cozumel Island
with Sea Turtles, Fish,
Corals, Jellyfish, Mollusks,
not with Whales, Dolphins,
and the Manatee
including creatures of the coral reef
& some subterranean creatures
in water in caves of the Yucatan
A list compiled by Armas Hill
Noting those seen during Focus On Nature Tours
and pelagic trips
with an (*)
PHOTOS AT UPPER RIGHT: Top: a SEA FAN on
CORAL, Bottom: QUEEN CONCH
CZ: Cozumel Island (where the Caribbean Sea & the Gulf of Mexico meet)
along the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coasts
YP: in the area of the Yucatan Peninsula,
including coastal & offshore Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico waters
Classifications as designated by the IUCN (International Union for the
Conservation of Nature) relating to threatened species:
(t1): critically endangered
(ph): species with a photo in the FONT website
Relating to Illustrations in Books:
(ASC:xxx) refers to plate numbers
in the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Seashore Creatures"
(ATMF:xxx) refers to plate number of photo in
the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine
(FGCF:xxx) refers to page with an illustration in the book
"A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes from Maine to Texas" by Val Kells
& Kent Carpenter
Links, in the following list, to:
Corals Jellyfish & Portuguese Man-of-war
Conchs Tulip Shells
Whelks and Crown Conchs
Shells Sea Hares
Purse Shells (incl. Tree Oysters) Pen
Shells Clams (incl. Cockles)
Arthropods: Horseshoe Crab
Sea Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins
information is in this list about regional seafood specialties in the Yucatan
shared with us by Chef David Sterling. For more info, click this
An excellent new book has been published, in 2014, by David Sterling, entitled
"Yucatan, Recipes from a Culinary Expedition".
In this list, some references are made to award-winning book.
FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Central America (including Mexico)
Listing of scheduled Focus On Nature Tours FONT Past Tour Highlights
including Marine Mammals, in: Central
Directory of Photos in this
MARINE, or SEA, TURTLES
- Leatherback (Sea Turtle) (t1) (ph) ______
Dermochelys coriacea (the single member of its genus)
The Leatherback is the world's largest turtle. It can weigh half a
ton. It is a deep diver. It can go to a depth of about 5,000 feet.
- Loggerhead (Sea Turtle) (t2) (ph) ______
(the single ember of its
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
(photo by Alan Brady during a FONT pelagic
- Green (Sea) Turtle (t2) (ph) ______
- Hawksbill (Sea Turtle) (t1) (*)
______ BZ YP
(the single member of its genus)
The Hawksbill (Sea Turtle) favors, among other places, coral reefs. It has a
It has a long beak and two pairs of prefrontals.
- Kemp's Ridley (Sea) Turtle (t1) ______
The Kemp's Ridley is said to be the world's rarest sea turtle".
It is "critically endangered".
An excellent book about Sea Turtles is "Voyage of the Turtle - In
Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur", by Carl Safina, Owl Books,
published in 2007.
Click the above link for a list of Marine
Fish of Belize & eastern Mexico: 361 species
Most of the coral
species in this list are "hard" corals. Others are "soft" corals
Currently, there are about 66 hard corals known to occur in Belize. 54 of
them are typical HERMATYPIC CORALS and 12 are AHERMATYPIC
A HERMATYPIC CORAL is a reef-building coral with symbiotic
zooanthellae in the tissues.
The zooanthellae utilize carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce organic
compounds which are absorbed by the coral as food. providing the
overwhelming majority of nutrition need by the coral colony.
Corals which do not have zooanthellae are called AHERMATYPIC CORALS,
and must rely on capturing prey with the stinging cells in their
HYDROCORALS (Class Hydrozoa)
FIRE CORALS (Family Milleporidae)
- Branching Fire Coral ______
Millepora alcicornis is highly
toxic. People touching it suffer a sever burning sensation and blistery
- Blade Fire Coral ______ BZ
- Millepora striata
LACE CORALS (Family Stylasteridae)
- Rose Lace Coral ______ BZ
STONY CORALS (including Staghorn & Elkhorn Corals) (Class
- Blushing Star Coral ______
- Ten-ray Finger Coral ______ BZ
- Eight-ray Finger Coral ______ BZ
- Encrusting Star Coral ______
(or M. pharensis luciphila)
Yellow Pencil Coral ______ BZ
Star Coral ______ BZ
______ BZ (ASC:55)
Fused Staghorn ______ BZ
Lettuce Coral ______ BZ
Fragile Saucer Coral ______ BZ
Lowrelief Lettuce Coral ______ BZ
Lamarck's Sheet Coral ______
Thin Leaf Lettuce Coral
Scroll Coral ______ BZ
Sunray Lettuce Coral ______ BZ
Massive Starlet Coral ______ BZ
Lesser Starlet Coral ______ BZ
Boulder Brain Coral ______
Knobby Brain Coral ______ BZ
Grooved Brain Coral ______ BZ
Symmetrical Brain Coral (ph) ______
BZ (ASC:2) (has also been called Common or Smooth
Symmetrical Brain Coral
Golfball Coral ______ BZ
Rose Coral ______ BZ
Lobed Star Coral
______ BZ (ASC:10)
(has also been called Boulder Star
Coral or Common Star Coral)
Great Star Coral ______
BZ (ASC:11,174) (has also been called Large Star Coral)
Smooth Star Coral ______ BZ
Knobby Star Coral ______ BZ
______ BZ (ASC:13)
Another name for Porites porites
is Clubbed Finger Coral.
Mustard Hill Coral
______ BZ (ASC:9)
Coral ______ BZ
Blue Crust Coral
Dwarf Cup Coral ______ BZ
Lesser Speckled Cup Coral
Hidden Cup Coral ______ BZ
ambrosia ______ BZ
Diffuse Ivory Bush Coral ______
Ivory Tree Coral ______ BZ
Large Ivory Coral ______
Smooth Flower Coral
______ BZ (ASC:173,198)
Baroque Cave Coral ______
Pillar Coral (ph) ______
Elliptical Star Coral ______ BZ
Maze Coral ______
Rough Star Coral ______ BZ
Sinuous Cactus Coral ______ BZ
Large Flower Coral ______ BZ
Artichoce Coral ______
Spiny Flower Coral ______ BZ
Mussa (or Scolymia)
Knobby Cactus Coral ______ BZ
Lowridge Cactus Coral ______ BZ
Rough Cactus Coral ______ BZ
Ridged Cactus Coral ______ BZ
Ridgeless Cactus Coral ______ BZ
including Sea Fans
Corky Sea Fingers
______ BZ (ASC:64)
Gorgonia ssp. (G. ventalina:
Common Sea Fan)
Yellow Sea Whip
Eunicea Sea Rods
Plexaurella ______ (ASC:58)
JELLYFISH (Class Scyphozoa)
Moon Jellyfish (ph) (*) ______
aurita is the jellyfish most commonly washed up on beaches
during high tide or after a storm. It is up to 6 inches in diameter.
The Moon Jellyfish is mildly toxic. Its sting causes a slight rash
that may itch for several hours.
Above on a beach; below in the water.
Jellyfish (ph) ______ BZ
A local Spanish name for Cassiopeia
xamachana is "sombra pica", meaning "stinging
The adult Upside-down Jellyfish is
usually seen upside down on the bottom, in semi-stagnant water. In Belize,
it is found in a few parts of the San Pedro Lagoon.
The tentacles are pronounced and frilly and contain thousands of
zooxanthellae. Sometimes many of these jellyfish are seen together.
Although the adults are primarily sedentary, the young may be rarely seen
offshore in outlying atoll lagoons actively swimming about. The adult is up
to 8 inches in diameter.
______ YP (ASC:503)
Jellyfish ______ (ASC:507,514)
Sea Thimbles ______ YP
Sea Thimbles are small
jellyfish. They are transparent with rows of brown lines and dots that make
them visible. They have very small tentacles.
Sea Thimbles occur in masses that sometimes number in the millions.
They are blown ashore at various times of the year, often due to shifts in
ocean currents. Their sting is harmless to most people, but rarely some
people are allergic to it.
One may hear the term "Sea Lice" along the Caribbean coast
of Mexico, at beaches such as Cancun and Cozumel.
This tiny nuisance is actually the larvae of jellyfish, that of the
At times, particularly from April through August, large numbers can cover
whole beach areas. Sometimes local people use a red flag system to
There are now several products on the market that neutralize the stings.
While not 100% effective for all swimmers, they do help.
The best treatment for jellyfish stings is prevention. Wearing water shoes
is a good way to avoid stings on the beach and at rocky areas. In the water,
small jellyfish are virtually invisible and they can be camouflaged around
and among seaweed.
In addition to the above-mentioned "jellyfish lotion", locals
believe that even oily sun tan lotion can deter stings. Tentacles stick to
the skin, but the oil seems to help them slide
Caribbean Cubomedusae, or
"Sea Wasps" ______ YP
"Sea Wasps" are
small, transparent jellyfish, about the size and shape of a small match box.
They have one tentacle on each corner of their body.
The name "Cubomedusae" is due to the body shape (like a
cube). The creature is related to the deadly Cubomedusae off
Australia. Fortunately, the Caribbean variety is not deadly, but it will
impart a strong sting.
These animals usually live in deep water, but they rise to the surface in
the daytime. They are not, however, very common. A snorkeler or diver is
generally not likely to encounter these jellyfish.
HYDROIDS (Class Hydrozoa): not true jellyfish)
Portuguese Man-of-war (ph) ______
The Portuguese Man-of-war is a common siphonophore occurring at the sea
surface. Gas-filled, its clear blue float and pink crest are unmistakable.
Its long, blue, coiled stinging tentacles are up to over 10 meters in
length, hanging below a blue to purple-colored colony.
Also known by the name "bluebottles".
The float is up to 30 centimeters long, and has a crest which acts as a
sail. It is blown along by wind and carried by currents. Shows
"tumbling" behavior when it dips each side alternately in the
water, so keeping the float moist.
Highly toxic. Can deliver a painful sting.
The Bluebottlefish, Nomeus gronovii, is often found in association with
Bougainvillia hydroids ______
MX (ASC:80) Mexico,
also West Indies, Bahamas, and along both North American Atlantic and
SEASHELLS are made by MOLLUSKS.
MOLLUSKS are invertebrate animals that produce shells of one or two
pieces that wholly or partially enclose a soft body.
SHELLS are the skeletons of MOLLUSKS. Like the internal
skeleton (endoskeleton) of a mammal, the external skeleton (exoskeleton) of
mollusks function both for protection and as a place for muscle attachment.
A SHELL found on a beach is the skeletal remnant of a dead MOLLUSK.
MOLLUSKS are either snail-like animals with one shell (UNIVALVES,
or GASTROPODS), or clam-like animals with two shells (BIVALVES).
The two shells of a BIVALVE are held tightly together when the animal
A third group of MOLLUSKS are the CEPHALOPODS, including SQUIDS
and OCTOPUSES. These animals lack external shells, having instead
internal or rudimentary shells.
GASTROPODS (Class Gastropoda): snail-like mollusks with a one-part
Milk Conch ______ BZ
Rooster-tail Conch ______ BZ
Queen Conch (ph) ______ BZ
Above & below: Queen Conch
In the lower photo, in the sea
Hawkswing Conch ______
West Indian Fighting Conch
West Indian Turban Shell ______
Cittarium pica (or Livonia
TULIP SHELLS (including
True Tulip Shell ______ BZ
MX YP (ASC:421)
in the Caribbean, also from North Carolina to Texas
The orange-red color morph of the True
Tulip Shell is most common on the Yucatan Peninsula and in the Florida
Banded Tulip Shell ______ MX
YP (ASC:422) the
Yucatan, also West indies including Bahamas, and North Carolina to Texas
As handsome as it is, the
Banded Tulip Snail is also an aggressive predator that feeds on many
other species of snails. In turn, it is eaten by the larger Florida Horse
Florida Horse Conch ______
BZ MX (ASC:426)
in Mexico, also North Carolina to Texas
(formerly in the genus Fasciolaria)
Pleuroploca gigantea is one of
the biggest shells in the world, up to 24 inches long and 10 inches wide.
Older shells are usually well covered with various bryozoans, barnacles,
tube worms, and other sedentary invertebrates.
Emperor Helmet (ph) ______
BZ MX (ASC:434)
in the Caribbean, also southeast Florida
In Belize, the Emperor Helmet is
locally called "King Conch".
(photo courtesy of Diane Allison)
Royal Triton (ph) ______ BZ
Above & below: the Royal Triton
Scotch Bonnet (ph)
______ BZ (ASC:454)
Atlantic Partridge Tun
Star-shell ______ BZ
Another name for Astraea phoebia
is Eyestone Shell.
Bubble ______ BZ (ASC:443)
Flamingo Tongue (ph)
______ BZ (ASC:449)
Bleeding Tooth (ph)
Limpet ______ BZ
Rock Shell ______
MX (ASC:415) Mexico, also West Indies, and
North Carolina to Texas
WHELKS and CROWN CONCHS
Lightning Whelk ______ MX
YP (ASC:427,428) the Yucatan, also North Carolina to Texas
The large Lightning Whelk, up to
16 inches long and 7 inches wide, is unusual in that its spiralling is to
The size and beauty of the shell make it an attractive souvenir.
Crown Conch ______ MX
(ASC:429) from Florida to Mexico
occurs in shallow water, below the low-tide line.
West Indian Crown Conch ______ BZ
Another name for Melongena melongena
is Mud Conch. The species was described
by Linnaeus in 1758.
Junonia (or Juno's
Volute) ______ MX YP
Scaphella junonia butleri subspecies off the Yucatan
The Junonia has historically been prized for its beauty and apparent rarity.
It is, however, commonly taken accidentally as bycatch from rather deep
water during commercial trawling for shrimp in the Gulf of
CONES are all predatory and equipped with poison glands and a radula that
has detachable, dart-like teeth.
It should be noted that a live CONE SNAIL held in the hand could harpoon the
holder, and the snail is mildly toxic.
Stearn's Cone ______ MX
YP (ASC:432) the Yucatan, also West Indies including Bahamas, and
North Carolina to Texas
Spotted Sea Hare
Atlantic Black Sea Hare (ph) (*) ______
from shore during a FONT tour, photo below)
is called "Tinta" in
This odd creature was seen in
the water of a coastal bay
from the shoreline in the northern Yucatan,
after dark, during the FONT Mexico tour in March 2009.
In English, it's called the ATLANTIC BLACK SEA HARE.
Its scientific name is Aplysia morio.
In Spanish, it's a "Tinta", so called because it ejects ink when
The word "tinta" in Spanish means "ink".
The creature, 16
inches long, and 14 inches across,
is in the Phylum Mollusca (the Mollusks), in the Class Gastropoda
as are other things such as the Common Periwinkle and the Slipper
When the Sea Hare swims, the large parapodia is spread very widely.
It swims in the direction of its "two-pronged head",
in other words, toward the upper left of the photo.
(photo by Marie
BIVALVES, also known as
PELECYPODS (Class Bivalva)
SHELLS (including TREE OYSTERS)
Flat Tree Oyster ______
(ASC:357) Caribbean coast in Central America; also West Indies,
south Florida, Texas
The Flat Tree Oyster is commonly found in large compact clumps. Like the
following species, the Mangrove Oyster, the Flat Tree Oyster occurs on
Saw-toothed Pen Shell ______ MX
(ASC:299) Mexico, also West Indies, and North Carolina to Texas
The Saw-toothed Pen Shell is
harvested in Mexico, where its adductor muscles are canned and sold as
In some places, Atrina serrata is
very common. During storms, at times, large numbers are washed ashore.
CLAMS (including COCKLES)
Broad-ribbed Cardita ______ MX
(ASC:324) Mexico, also south Florida to Texas
The clam, the Broad-ribbed Cardita, is commonly used in the
Common Egg Cockle ______ MX
(ASC:330) Mexico, also West Indies, and North Carolina to Texas
Morton's Egg Cockle ______ MX
(ASC:342) Mexico, also West Indies, and Cape Cod MA to Texas
The Morton's Egg Cockle is small, 1 inch long and 1 and one-eighth inch
high. It is often washed ashore during storms.
Disk Dosinia (or Disk
______ MX (ASC:334) (PAS:25) (PS:31)
Bahamas, and Virginia to Texas
Sunray Venus ______ MX
(ASC:302) (PS:31) Mexico, also North Carolina to Texas
A large clam, up to 5 inches long and 2 and a half inches high, the Sunray
Venus was used during pre-Columbian times as a tool.
Southern Quahog ______ MX
YP (ASC:336) (PS:30) Mexico, also Cuba, and Virginia to
False Angel Wing ______ MX
(ASC:297) (PS:30) Mexico, also from eastern Canada to Texas;
introduced on the North American Pacific coast
Coquina ______ MX
(ASC:321) (PAS:25) (PS:37) Mexico, also Long Island NY to Texas
Other names for Donax variabilis are Butterfly Shell, Wedge Shell,
Donax variabilis burrows in loose sand at the midwater line, where in
favorable conditions individuals may be gathered by the handful with hardly
any sand mixed in.
Even though the shells are so small (three-fourths of an inch long,
three-eighths of an inch high), they are often so gathered and made into a
Dead Coquina shells usually remain in pairs, connected at the hinge, and
spread out appearing like butterflies.
The color patterns of Donax variabilis are
variable, in fact quite so. Out
of let's say 50 shells, it is sometimes difficult to find 2 that are exactly
Angel Wing (ph) ______ MX
(ASC:296) (PAS:27) (PS:38) Mexico, also West Indies, and north
to Cape Cod MA, south to Brazil
Described by Linnaeus in 1758, the Angel Wing belongs to a family of
borers, the PHOLADS.
When cleaned, the two delicate and graceful valves held together by the
hinge ligament truly suggest the wings of an angel.
CEPHALOPODS including SQUIDS and OCTOPUSES
Long-finned Squid ______ YP
Spanish name: Calamar
In the fish markets in Campeche, Mexico, the squid for sale are small.
The two varieties are Loligo pealeii
and Loligo plei (below).
They reach lengths of only 10 inches (Loligo
pealeii) and 11.5 inches (Loligo
Both are typically by-catch that may be discarded, used for bait, or sold in
the market. In Campeche, these are the most typical market squid.
(from the book: "Yucatan, Recipes from a Culinary
Expedition" by David Sterling)
Slender Inshore Squid ______ YP
Spanish name: Calamar
The Spirula is a deep-sea squid. It was described by Linnaeus in
Atlantic Oval Squid (or
Reef Squid) (ph) ______
Atlantic Oval Squid, or Reef Squid
(photo courtesy of Diane Allison)
Caribbean Reef Octopus ______ BZ
Another name for Octopus briareus
is Briar Octopus.
Long-armed Octopus (ph) ______ (ASC:482)
Other names for Octopus macropus
are White-spotted Octopus and Grass Octopus. It grows up to 3
and one-quarter feet, including the longest arm.
A Long-armed Octopus, or White-spotted Octopus
HORSESHOE CRAB (Class Merostomata)
(ph) (*) ______ MX YP
(photo by Rise Hill)
CRUSTACEANS (Class Crustacea)L
Barnacle ______ (ASC:279)
Ivory Barnacle ______ (ASC:275)
Common Goose Barnacle ______ BZ
Shrimp ______ BZ MX YP
the Caribbean, and north to the Chesapeake bay, south to
A REGIONAL FOOD SPECIALTY:
SHRIMP is used in Yucatan Style CEVICHE, a seafood dish that is
popular in coastal regions of Central America, including Belize and the
Ceviche is typically made with fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices,
such as lemon and lime, and spiced with aji or chili peppers.
Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and coriander, may also
be added (also noted in the next paragraph).
Ceviche is often accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors,
such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado, or plantain.
As ceviche is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize
the risk of food poisoning. It can be safer to prepare it with frozen or
blast-frozen fish, due to Anisakis parasites.
Ceviche is said to have originated in South America, in Peru. The dish,
however, has been part of the traditional Mexican coastal cuisine has
Mexican ceviche has developed its own distinct styles that make it unique
from other variations.
In Mexico and Central America, it is served in cocktail cups with tostadas,
or as a tostada topping and taco filling.
Sea Bass, grouper, tuna, mackerel, and octopus squid are popular bases for
The marinade ingredients include: salt, lime, onion, chili peppers, avocado,
and coriander leaves (known as "cilantro" in the Americas).
Tomatoes are often added to the preparation.
Following is a recipe for YUCATAN STYLE FISH CERVICHE:
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 pounds of sea bass, 3/4 pound large
large sweet onion, 3 medium Habanero peppers, 1 cup fresh lime juice, 1/2
cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup seeded and diced
Cut the fish in 1/4 inch slice, remove any bones as you go. Place the fish
in a glass or glazed ceramic dish large enough to hold one in full layer.
Shell and devain the shrimp, rinsing them only if necessary to rid them of
grit. Slice the shrimp in half lengthwise or butterfly them. Layer the
shrimp over the fish. Slice the onion in half lengthwise, then crosswise in
thin slices Layer the onion over the fish and shrimp.
Toast the habaneros fro 3 to 5 minutes in a dry skillet to release the oil
from the cells. Wearing rubber gloves, stem, seed and sliver the habaneros
and scatter them over the onions.
Season the dish with salt and pour in the lime and orange juices. Cover and
marinate in the refrigerator for 5 hours or overnight, or until the fish and
shrimp are opaque. Pour off most of the marinade to reduce the carbs from
the fruit juice.
Add cilantro and diced tomato, stir and serve at cool room temperature.
Serve with tortilla chips.
Brown Shrimp ______ MX
YP the Caribbean, and north to New Jersey and south
White Shrimp ______ MX
Shrimp ______ MX YP (ASC:607)
from the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada to the Yucatan Peninsula in
Shrimp ______ MX YP
(ASC:616) the Yucatan, also West Indies, Bahamas,
Shrimp ______ MX YP (ASC:617)
the Yucatan, also West Indies, Florida
The Spotted Cleaning Shrimp lives among the tentacles of the
Pink-tipped Anemone, Ringed Anemone, and others.
It is found around coral reefs in shallow water.
Like other cleaning shrimps, Periclimenes
yucatanicus cleans parasites from the skin and mouths of
West Indies Spiny Lobster (*) ______
YP (ASC:625) in
the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, also north to North Carolina, south to
The Spiny Lobster grows up to 21 inches long. Although it is
called "crawfish" in many places, Panulirus
argus is not to be confused with the freshwater crawfish
Off the Yucatan Peninsula, the West Indies Spiny Lobster occurs at
the Alacranes Reef.
A REGIONAL FOOD SPECIALTY:
"Langosta en Leche de Coco",
which is lobster poached in coconut milk. This is a specialty of Belize and
the coast of the Yucatan.
Ridged Slipper Lobster ______ BZ
the Caribbean, also in the Gulf of Mexico and north to North Carolina
CRABS are found on every
continent. An array of varieties of both small and large crabs make them a
favorite seafood many places throughout the world.
Little mud crabs are perfect for soups and stocks.
Dungeness Crabs (in western North America, along the coast of the Pacific
Northwest) provide wonderfully sweet meat.
Shore crabs in their molted state are a delicacy, and are known as
And the magnificent King Crab (of Alaska) is favored for its leg meat.
Many crabs are harvested sustainably as they are caught live.
Generally, crab contains two types of meat:
White meat is extracted from the legs, claws, and central body.
Brown meat is located in the carapace or shell that contains the main
White meat is generally the more popular because it is sweet and delicate.
Brown meat, or the meat from the body of the crab, has a stronger and more
pronounced flavor and varies in consistency.
Crab is sold live, cooked and unprepared, and cooked and dressed (which
means that the inedible parts have been removed).
Fresh, pasteurized and canned crab meat is also available, usually separated
into white and brown.
Cooked crab should always be purchased from a reliable source. It should
have a lovely sweet seafood aroma.
To remove the meat
from a cooked crab, place it on its back and break off the claws and legs,
then break off the tail flap. Insert a heavy-bladed knife between the body
shell, twist and then pry apart with your thumbs. Remove and discard the
"dead man's fingers" (the gills).
Using a spoon, scoop the brown meat out into a bowl. Halve the body with a
sharp knife and carefully pick out the meat. Finally, press on the back
shell just behind the eyes, then remove and discard the mouth and stomach
sac. Scoop out the remaining brown meat.
Some notes, now,
regarding the taxonomy of "crabs". The genera that follow are in a
number of families:
In the families:
DIOGENIDAE, the genera
Petrochirus, Clibanarius, Dardanus, the
PAGURIDAE, the genus
HIPPIDAE, the genus
DROMIIDE, the genus
LEUCOSIIDAE, the genus
CALAPPIDAE, the genus
Calappa, "Box Crabs"
AETHRIDAE, the genus
PORTUNIDAE, the genera
Ovalipes, Portunus, Callinectes, Carcinus, the
CANERIDAE, the genus
ERIPHIIDAE, the genus
PANOPEIDAE, the genera
MENIPPIDAE, the genus
GRAPSIDAE, the genera
SESARMIDAE, the genus
OCYPODIDAE, the genera Ocypode and
Uca, "Sand Crabs" and
OREGONIIDAE, the genus
EPIALTIDAE, the genus
MAJIDAE, the genus
INACHIDAE, the genus
PARTHENOPIDAE, the genus
Land Hermit Crab (ph)
______ BZ (ASC:685)
Another name for Coenobita clypeatus
is Caribbean Hermit Crab.
Land Hermit Crab
(photo courtesy of Michiel Koomen)
Giant Hermit Crab
______ BZ (ASC:682)
Another name for Petrochirus diogenes
is Red Hermit Crab.
Common Blue Crab (ph) ______ BZ
Common Blue Crab
(photo courtesy of Michiel Koomen)
Giant Blue Land Crab
______ BZ (ASC:632)
Another name for Cardisoma guanhumi is
Great Land Crab.
When they are spawning, thousands of Giant Blue
Land Crabs can be seen going into the water at night. In days gone by,
hundreds of thousands could be seen in less populated areas going into the
ocean. That phenomenon occurs when the moon is is full (lunar periodicity).
The breeding season, during with spawning occurs, is in July and August.
Mating takes place in burrows on land, so all of the migrating crabs are
"berried" females. The larvae hatch in the sea and go through a
complicated series of shape changes. About 25 days are spent n the sea,
before the young crabs come on land.
The Giant Blue Land Crab is hole-dwelling, and may be up to 7 inches
across. The male (called the "bo crab" in Belize) has an
usually large claw.
A Giant Blue Land Crab in Belize
Batwing Coral Crab (ph) ______ BZ
Batwing Coral Crab
Stone Crab (ph) ______ BZ
Large Reef Spider Crab ______
Yellow Box Crab
______ BZ (ASC:673)
Another name for Calappa gallus
is Shame-faced Crab.
Spotted Porcelain Crab (ph) ______
Another name for Porcellana sayana
is Say's Porcelain Crab.
is small, only about an inch wide. It
is often found in association with the Queen Conch, and with marine hermit
crabs occupying vacant shells.
Spotted Porcelain Crab
Arrow Crab ______ BZ
Giant Decorator Crab ______ BZ
Red Rock Crab (ph)
______ BZ (ASC:649)
in the Caribbean area and along the Atlantic coast in South America
is also known as the "Sally Lightfoot Crab". It was
described by Linnaeus in 1758. In addition to the range noted above, it is
found along the Pacific coast of Central America and South America, and in
the Galapagos Islands.
The adult Graspus graspus is
quite variable in color. Some can be muted brownish-red, while others can be
mottled or spotted brown, pink, or yellow.
Young Graspus graspus are black
or dark brown. They are camouflaged well on the black lava coasts of
Graspus graspus has 5 pairs of
legs. The front two have small, blocky, symmetrical chalae. The other legs
are broad and flat.
The crab's round, flat carapace is just over 3 inches in length.
Red Rock Crab
Spotted Decorator Crab ______ BZ
Atlantic Ghost Crab (ph) ______ BZ
(ASC:631) north of the
Caribbean to Massachusetts, south to southern Brazil
The Atlantic Ghost Crab is more active at night than it is in the
daytime. It is an inhabitant of sandy beaches.
Atlantic Ghost Crab
Mudflat Fiddler Crab ______ BZ
Saltpan Fiddler Crab ______ BZ
Atlantic Mangrove Fiddler
Mangrove Tree Crab ______
Mangrove Root Crab ______
Another name for Goniopsis cruentata
is Spotted Mangrove Crab.
ECHINODERMS: Sea Stars,
Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins
Cushion Star (ph) (*) ______ BZ
Another name for Oreaster
reticulatus is Reticulated Sea Star. It walks over
sand bottoms of Turtle Grass beds, especially around 6 feet in depth.
(photo courtesy of Diane Allison)
species are BRITTLE STARS, also known as SERPENT STARS. Worldwide,
there are over 1,800 species of BRITTLE STARS.
BRITTLE STARS seem to be "everywhere" in the coral reef,
and in its environs. There does not seem to be hole that they do not use for
(photo courtesy of Diane Allison)
Short-spined Brittle Star
Atlantic Long-spined Brittle Star
The Atlantic Long-spined Brittle Star is highly variable in color
Long-spined Sea Urchin (ph)
(*) ______ BZ
The Long-spined Sea Urchin has spines up to 15 inches long.
Above & below: Long-spined Sea Urchins
(photos courtesy of Diane Allison)
Below: a sea urchin in sand particles
(photo courtesy of Michiel Koomen)
BENEATH MUCH OF THE LIMESTONE SURFACE
THAT MAKES UP MOST OF THE YUCATAN
PENINSULA OF MEXICO,
THERE'S WATER, AND IN SOME ODD CREATURES LIVE.
WE SAW THE FOLLOWING IN POOLS IN A CAVE DURING THE FONT NOVEMBER 2008 YUCATAN,
(Spanish names precede the scientific names.)
("blind eel") (*) ______ YP
Dama Blanca (an
eyeless, white fish) (*) ______ YP
("blind shrimp") (*) ______ YP
(an eyeless crustacean) (*) ______ YP
"Sea Life - A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment", edited by
Geoffrey Waller, with principal contributors Marc Dando & Michael Burchett,
"Fishes of the Atlantic Coast: Canada to Brazil, including the Gulf of
Mexico, Florida, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean", by Gar Goodson,
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