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 photos copyright John P. Hoover unless otherwise credited

Some interesting Hawaiian xanthid crabs
including a few not in Hawaii's Sea Creatures
page one - xanthid and xanthid-like crabs
(page two, non-xanthids, is here

Looking for more crabs? Scott and Jeanette Johnson's Marshall Islands website is excellent.
Dr. Peter Castro's checklist of all crabs known from the Hawaiian Islands (July 2011)
Xanthidae of Hawaii (1962) by Charles H. Edmondson. (pdf - 94 p.)
Though not 100% accurate, photos of many of Hawaii's small crabs can be found here.
Also check the crab page of Keoki Stender's Marine Life Photography website.

Etisus splendidus
Rathbun, 1906
family Xanthidae
    David Rolla and Ariane Dimitris both sent me photos of a xanthid they could not identify. I sent the photos to crab specialist Dr. Peter Ng at Singapore National University. He replied, in both cases, that they were probably juvenile Etisus splendidus, but he added a question mark. So this ID is tentative.The top photo is Ariane's and the bottom photo is David's. A photo of a large 6-inch adult is in my book on p. 278.

Liomera tristis (Dana, 1852)
family Xanthidae
     Jeff Hill writes: Today at Kahalu'u I spotted a small xanthid crab sitting very still in a coral depression. Despite my moving within 4 inches for the purpose of photography it did not move at all over 2 or more minutes." Jeff concluded that it was no longer alive, or else a molt. He sent the photo to crab specialist Joseph Poupin, who confirmed the ID.

Jeff's find might be of scientific interest. In his 1962 monograph Xanthidae of Hawaii, Charles H. Edmondson of the Bishop Museum writes: "Early records from the Hawaiian Islands show its presence, but there are no recent local reports of it." A quick check suggests that the last formal record for this species in Hawai'i was in 1906.

The species attains about 1 inch in carapace width and is widely distributed across the Indo-West Pacific.

Leptodius sanguineus (H. Milne Edwards, 1834)
family Xanthidae
     This is one of the most common shoreline crabs in Hawaii. Although most small xanthids remain hidden in crevices or under stones by day, this species can often be seen crawling about in shallow tidepools feeding on algae. Its brownish or grayish color contrasts nicely with Hawaii's dark volcanic rock, making it easy to spot. It attains almost 2 in. carapace width and is known from East Africa and the Red Sea to the Eastern Pacific.

Domecia hispida Eydoux & Souleyet, 1842
family Domeciidae
      Henri Casanova photographed the above crab at Pupukea, O`ahu, at a depth of about 50 ft. Crabs of the genus Domecia are coral symbionts that occur most often in corals of the genus Pocillopora. (In the tropical Atlantic, however, they inhabit Acropora corals.) These crabs can also live freely on dead coral or rock. The above specimen appears to be inhabiting a pit or crevice in Pocillopora meandrina (Cauliflower Coral).
Below is a photo of a female D. hispida carrying an egg mass under her abdomen. It was taken by Dennis McCrea in about 30 ft. off the Kona coast of the Big Island.


Cherusius triunguiculatus (Borradaile, 1902)
(previous names: Jonesius triunguiculatus, Maldivia triunguiculata)
family Domeciidae

      Dennis McCrea and Debbie Newbery found this small crab on a Cushion Star off the Kona coast of the Big Island. They have photographed others as well, and Pauline Fiene says she has often seen small crabs on Cushion Stars off Maui--presumably the same species. Dr. Peter Castro identified the one in the photo above as Cherusias triunguiculatus (previously, Jonesius or Maldivia triunguiculatus). Up till now, this small xanthid has been known primarily as a symbiont of Porites corals, in which it creates small crevices or chambers. Do they spend much time on the stars, or are they just hitching a ride to another Porites coral head? Who knows, but in a video by Debbie one of these crabs appears to be feeding off the surface of the star. If the little commensal Periclimenes soror shrimps find food there, why not the crabs?
By the way, Cushion Stars feed on coral, though generally not the Porites corals inhabited by the crab.

Marketa Murray

BROAD-FRONTED CRAB Xanthias latifrons
family Xanthidae
       John Earle captured the crab in the upper photo on video at the Lanai Lookout, Oahu. Dr. Peter Ng identified it as a species of the genus Xanthias. Dr. Joseph Poupin further identified it as Xanthias latifrons. There is already a photo of X. latifrons in my book Hawaii's Sea Creatures, but it shows a specimen with a less detailed color pattern.
      In November 2021 Marketa Murray photographed the gorgeous little crab in the lower photo that we believe to be a juvenile of the same species. She found it in a submerged lava tube off West Hawaii. Xanthid crab specialist Jose C Mendoza of the National University of Singapore kindly examined the photo in detail, and while he couldn't be absolutely sure, that was his best guess as well. As is often the case, the bright patterning on juveniles of this species probably fades progeressively with age.

Gaillardiellus superciliaris Odhner, 1925
family Xanthidae

Kewalo Park, O`ahu. 2 ft. To about 1 inch carapace width.

Epiactaea nodulosa (White, 1847)
family Xanthidae
Above photo by Tina Owens, Kona, Hawai`i. Below, a smaller specimen photographed at a depth of 32 ft. off Makena Landing, Maui, by Ralph Turre. Large specimens approach 1 inch in carapace width.

Epiactaea nodulosa

Tweedieia laysani (Rathbun, 1906)
family Xanthidae
Photos: (top) Tina Owens, Kona, Hawai`i.
(bottom) Kelli Shaw. Crab found at base of an Antler Coral colony at "Horsehoe Reef" (next to the Kewalo Pipe), O`ahu. 45 ft. at night.

unidentified xanthid
Photo by Tina Owens, Kona, Hawai`i
According to Dr. Peter Ng this could be a species of Etisus, if from a coral reef. Or if from a rocky shore it might be Leptodius.

Chlorodiella laevissima (Dana, 1852)
family Xanthidae
O`ahu. collected by Darrell Takaoka

Paramedaeus sp
family Xanthidae.
(possibly P. octogesimus Ng and Clark, 2002)
Photo by Tina Owens, Kona, Hawai`

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  Text and photos copyright John P. Hoover unless otherwise credited