Your Guide To Crustaceans In Belize
When divers and travellers make their way to Belize, they often think of all of the incredible wildlife and sea creatures that they’re going to see on their trip. While dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles, often steal the spotlight, there are hundreds of species of other animals that we shouldn’t look over. This includes the incredible, unique, and beautiful crustaceans that live on land and in the sea and call Belize home. There are several species of crustaceans in Belize that you should definitely keep an eye out for during your visit.
While diving in Belize is a great way to spot a variety of beautiful creatures, don’t forget to keep your eyes open on land, especially for the crabs who live on the beautiful sandy beaches. Hermit crabs and blue crabs can both be found scuttling across the beach and around the Belize Dive Haven resort.
The most common type of crustacean in Belize is the Hermit crab, a species of crab that inhabits the islands of Belize by the thousands. While hermit crabs are nocturnal, they’re known to be found running across the sandy beaches of Belize at all hours of the day and night and can be spotted by guests who know to look out for them.
Hermit crabs are usually quite small but can grow up to a few inches in length if given the space to grow. They’re often found in the shells of West Indian Top Snails and must move from shell to shell as they get bigger and outgrow their former home. Although very cute, hermit crabs are quite fierce animals who will gang up on larger animals to steal their shells when needed, leaving them to perish. You can often find hermit crabs wandering the beaches in groups for both social companionship and protection.
Found often in and around Ambergris Caye, Blue Crabs and Giant Blue Crabs burrow in tunnels underground and scavenge for food on land. They’re named after their beautiful blue-grey appearance, and although they’re mostly harmless and very timid, they can easily spook guests who are walking the beaches or island trails at night due to their quick movements and one large claw that waves back and forth when they feel threatened.
Just like the hermit crabs, blue crabs like to travel in packs, especially when looking for food or to lay their eggs in the sea. When you see a blue crab, you may be able to spot them carrying their eggs at the underside of their bellies, trying to get them to safety.
One really interesting fact about blue crabs is that they have gills! This means that they have the ability to breathe both on land and in the water, and while they go back and forth between the two, they’re most comfortable underground.
In The Sea
The next time you’re in Belize, make sure to look out for crustaceans both in and out of the water. You’ll be able to see crabs wandering the land, and lobsters wandering the sea. Especially around the great blue hole, you’re likely to encounter lobsters while diving, but they may not look exactly like the lobster you’re used to eating at home!
The Caribbean Spiny Lobster
The Caribbean Spiny Lobster is a common sight when diving in Belize. They’re one of the largest crustaceans in the Caribbean ocean growing up to 15lbs/6kgs and can be identified by their very “spiny” appearance. While these lobsters tend to hide in dark, cool spaces like under rocks and coral, around dusk and dawn they become more active and can be spotted easier by divers passing by.
Like all lobsters, the Caribbean Spiny Lobster has an exoskeleton, meaning its skeleton is on the outside of its body and can not grow with the creature. When the lobster grows, it must create a new shell, as it will eventually bust out of the old one and become vulnerable to predators. Unfortunately, the Caribbean spiny lobster is declining in population, but it is too soon to tell if it is facing extinction. This makes respecting any lobsters you see on your dive even more important.
Want to swim with some of the most interesting creatures Belize has to offer?
Book your scuba diving vacation at Belize Dive Haven today.
Just 30 miles / 48 Kilometers from Belize City, Belize Dive Haven is located in pristine Turneffe Atoll. Consisting of creeks, lagoons, mangrove islands and cays, the atoll is home to over 500 species of fish, 65 different species of stony corals as well as birds, turtles, manatees and dolphins.