Hermit crab

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Hermit crab

A rare type of hermit crab has been rediscovered at a beach in Falmouth after a 30 year absence. The find at Castle Beach was made during a survey run by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The tiny crab, sometimes referred to as the Mediterranean hermit crab, scientific name Clibanarius erythropus, has not been recorded in Cornish waters since 1985.

Clibanarius erythropus

Image, Matt Slater

It is a rockpool species that grows up to a carapace length of 15 millimetres found mainly in warmer waters with a range including the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Eastern Atlantic from the Azores to Brittany, the Channel Islands and as far north as the south of Cornwall.

Local marine experts said that in the past the species had been occasionally found on the south coast of Cornwall but had virtually disappeared since the Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967, and that the reappearance may mean that Cornwall’s marine life has now fully recovered from the environmental disaster.

Clibanarius erythropus (Latreille, 1818)


Clibanarius – Latin, a soldier clad in mail, a cuirassier. Likely alluding to the gastropod shell used by the crab for shelter.

erythropus – Greek, erythro-, eruthros (ερυθρος), red; -pus, pous (πυος), foot – with red feet, red-footed, red-legged.