If you ever find yourself standing on the sandbanks of a river or one of the sandy beaches from the Bay of Bengal to Australia after the tide has gone out, you may have the opportunity to see Soldier crabs.
Mictyris longicarpus, the light-blue soldier crab, is a species of crab of the genus Mictyris, it is “one of the most loved crabs in Australia”.
Soldier crabs look completely different to your run-of-the-mill river crab. Unlike most crabs which have a flat, oval shape, soldier crabs have a sky blue dome about the size of a 5 cent piece. Attached to the dome are long, spindly, cream coloured legs, which they use to lift their dome shaped body right off the sand.
But what gives soldier crabs their name is their tendency to march around in groups of tens and even hundreds. Often you’ll find them out of their holes in the sand, marching around in search of food, and with their close formation and blue shells, they look like an army. I assume this is how they got their name.
Now, if you do happen to see these soldier crabs and start walking over for a closer look you’ll discover something else about them. They have an amazing capacity to burrow down into the sand in a corkscrew motion In just moments they’ll be gone, leaving behind nothing but a little mound of sand which they have dug to create their burrow. And every time you get close this is what they’ll do.
You’re too big, you overwhelm them, you could be a predator. In fact the only way you could get close to those soldier crabs would be to transform yourself into one of them.