Sally Lightfoot Crab (Grapsus grapsus)
Crab Appreciation Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Well, Herman told his Sally and it broke her heart
She loved that lobster right from the start
He took her in his claws and said "I'll always be yours,
But still, dear, we'll have to part.
Crabs walk sideways and lobsters walk straight,
And you can't take a crab for your mate."
~ "Crabs Walk Sideways," The Smothers Brothers, 1964
There are more ways to appreciate the crab on their special day than with clarified butter! How about some admiration for their fancy feetwork?! Although most crabs typically walk sideways or "crabwise" (because of the articulation of the legs which makes a sidelong gait more efficient), some crabs walk forwards or even backwards! Sally Lightfoot crabs are brightly-coloured coastal scavengers, found in the Galapagos Islands and across the western coast of South and Central America. They are rumoured to have been named after a Caribbean dancer, due to their agility in jumping from rock to rock, their ability to run in four directions and their capacity to climb up vertical slopes. This extreme agility makes them very difficult to catch. 🦀
It's Crab Appreciation Day!
Sally Lightfoot is the name of two species of crabs. Grapsus grapsus is one of the most common crabs along the western coast of the Americas. It is known variously as, "red rock crab", "abuete negro", and "Sally Lightfoot."
It is a quick-moving and agile crab, and hard to catch. Not considered very edible by humans, it is used primarily as bait by fishermen.
Grapsus grapsus was collected by Charles Darwin during his voyages on HMS Beagle, and also by the first comprehensive study of the fauna of the Gulf of California by Ed Ricketts, together with California author, John Steinbeck and others. Steinbeck records:
"Many people have spoken at length of the Sally Lightfoots. In fact, everyone who has seen them has been delighted with them. The very name they are called by reflects the delight of the name. These little crabs, with brilliant cloisonné carapaces, walk on their tiptoes, They have remarkable eyes and an extremely fast reaction time. In spite of the fact that they swarm on the rocks at the Cape ... they are exceedingly hard to catch. They seem to be able to run in any of four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. They escape the long-handled net, anticipating from what direction it is coming. If you walk slowly, they move slowly ahead of you in droves. If you hurry, they hurry. When you plunge at them, they seem to disappear in a puff of blue smoke—at any rate, they disappear. It is impossible to creep up on them. They are very beautiful, with clear brilliant colors, red and blues and warm browns."
Many crabs typically walk sideways because the articulation of their legs makes a sidelong gait more efficient. However, some crabs walk forwards or backwards, or even capable of swimming.
Crabs are mostly active animals with complex behaviour patterns. They can communicate by drumming or waving their pincers.
If you haven't seen the viral video of Noisestorm - Crab Rave of dancing crabs which became an internet phenomenon, click the dancing crabs and check out their sideways shuffles.