A field guide to Kenyan mangroves

species list


Thalamita crenata H. Milne Edwards, 1861

Family: Portunidae

Zone: from Rhizophora mucronata zone seaward.

Habitat: Burrows or uses crevices (Vezzosi et al., 1995; Gillikin, 2000).

Food: Primarily carnivorous, but will also eat algae (Dahdouh-Guebas et al., 1999).

Ecological notes: Uses sight to find it's refuge and is faithful to a given area (Cannicci et al., 1994). Burrows of T. crenata are usually irregularly shaped holes about 15 to 20 cm in diameter, descending with a shallow slope and are filled with water (Gillikin, 2000). Within the mangal, it prefers the R. mucronata zone (Gillikin, 2000), but also resides in front of mangrove forests (Cannicci et al., 1994; Vezzosi et al., 1995). Most active when water level is between 10-30 cm deep and at night (Vezzosi et al., 1995). We found these crabs inhabiting burrows close to land, hundreds of meters from large creeks.

Distinguishing characteristics: Rounded carapace with five antero-lateral teeth; swimming legs [compare with larger S. seratta] (carapace width about 10 cm). This is an edible crab and can often be found in village markets.

Geographical range: Whole Indo-Pacific region (Cannicci et al., 1994).


Cannicci, S., F. Dahdouh-Guebas and L. Montemagno, 1993. "Field Keys for Kenyan Mangrove Crabs." Museo Zoologico "La Specola", Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica dell'UniversitÓ Degli Studi di Firenze, Via Romana 17, I-50125 Firenze, Italia.

Cannicci, S., D. Anyona and F. Dahdouh-Guebas, 1994. "Homing in the mangrove swimming crab Thalamita crenata (Decapoda: Portunidae)." Bull. Zool. Suppl. 92.

Dahdouh-Guebas, F., M. Giuggioli, A. Oluoch, M. Vannini & S. Cannicci, 1999. "Feeding habits of non-ocypodid crabs from two mangrove forests in Kenya." Bull. Mar. Sci. 64(2): 291-297.

Gillikin, D.P., 2000. Factors controlling the distribution of Kenyan brachyuran mangrove crabs: Salinity tolerance and ecophysiology of two Kenyan Neosarmatium species. M.Sc. Thesis, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium.

Vezzosi, Roberto, Silva Barbaresi, Diana Anyona and Marco Vannini, 1995. "Activity patterns in Thalamita crenata (Portunidae, Decapoda): A shaping by the tidal cycles." Marine Behaviour and Physiology 24:207-214.

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all text and photographs copyrightę 2002-2016 David Gillikin and Anouk Verheyden
Created 28 August 2001

Updated June 24, 2016