Invasion HistoryFirst Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1950
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1950
General Invasion History:
Callinectes bocourti is considered native from Jamaica and Belize to Santa Caterina, Brazil. It prefers brackish waters, but ranges from marine to nearly freshwaters, often in similar habitats to Callinectes sapidus (Blue Crab) in places where their geographic ranges overlap (Williams 1984). It has occurred sporadically on the Atlantic coast of the US from southern Florida to North Carolina, and on the Gulf Coast, west to Mississippi. Occurrences of Callinectes bocourti on the Atlantic coast of Florida and northward probably result from transport by the Gulf Stream and its meanders (Williams and Williams 1981). Occurrences in the inner Gulf of Mexico probably result through transport in ballast water. There is no evidence that this crab reproduces in US waters. (Perry 1973, Williams 1984; Perry and Yaeger 2006; USGS Nonindigenous Species Program 2009).
North American Invasion History:
Invasion History on the East Coast:
The first reported East Coast collection of Callinectes bocourti occurred in 1950, in Matheson Hammock, Biscayne Bay, Florida (Provenszano 1961, cited by Gore and Grizzle 1974). This crab has since been captured in Biscayne Bay (in 1969 and 2006), in the Atlantic off Broward County (in 1968), in the Indian River Lagoon (in 1973 and 1988), at Ponce Inlet (in 2003), Matanzas Inlet (in 2003), the Atlantic near Jacksonville (in 2002), the Nassau River (in 2003) and the Amelia River (near the Georgia border) (Gore and Grizzle 1974; Williams and Williams 1981; United States National Museum of Natural History 2009; USGS Nonindigenous Species Program 2009). In the Carolinas, it was first captured in 1977, at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. It has since been found in at least 14 locations, mostly in brackish rivers, in South Carolina (United States National Museum of Natural History 2009; USGS Nonindigenous Species Program 2009). While ballast water transport cannot be excluded, most of these occurrences are away from major ports, and could be explained by transport in the Gulf Stream and its meanders (Williams and Williams 1981). We have treated East Coast occurrences as natural range extensions, without known reproduction.
Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:
Callinectes bocourti was first caught in the Gulf of Mexico in Biloxi Bay, Mississippi in 1971 (Perry 1973). This crab has been collected in or near Biloxi Bay at least four times since (in 1990, 1997, 1998, 1999) and at least once in Mobile Bay (in 2000) (USGS Nonindigenous Species Program 2009). Occurrences near Gulf of Mexico ports probably result from ballast water transport of crabs or larvae.
Callinectes bocourti has a broad and flat carapace, twice as wide as long, whose greatest width is marked by a prominent spine, which is the ninth (starting from the front) and largest of the lateral teeth on each side of the carapace. The carapace has two small, triangular, frontal teeth in the center, with a larger pointed tooth on each side. The propodus ('hand') of the claw and the carpus ('wrist') bear prominent ridges with a granular surface. The fifth pair of legs is flattened and expanded for swimming. The color of the dorsal carapace of the crab varies from olive, grayish green, greenish chestnut, or forest green, with purplish to red markings. The claws are red to dark reddish brown. The legs are reddish above, and maroon, yellow, and olive green. The under parts of the body vary from dirty white to purplish red (Williams 1984).
The abdomen differs sharply between the sexes. In the female, it is broad and rounded, with a triangular tip. In the male, it is T-shaped, with a broad base, narrowing sharply, and then broadening slightly near the tip (Williams 1984). The largest reported male crab was 132 mm wide (across the carapace, including the lateral spines), and the largest female was 146 mm (Williams 1984).
Potentially Misidentified Species
Life History- In crabs of the family Portunidae, the male attends the female before molting, and carries the female around, underneath his carapace. He releases the female, allows her to molt, and then copulates with her, inserting the first pair of pleopods, carrying sperm, into the female's seminal receptacles. The eggs are fertilized internally, and then extruded as a 'sponge' or a mass of eggs brooded between the abdomen and the body (Barnes 1983; Williams 1984). The eggs hatch into zoeae, larvae about 1 mm in size with long spines, which drift in the plankton. Each zoeae goes through several molts, and eventually molts into a postlarval megalopa, with prominent eyes and partially developed appendages. The megalopa is capable of crawling on the bottom and active, directed swimming. It settles and molts into a miniature 'first crab' which has all the features of an adult crab (Barnes 1983). The life cycle of Callinectes bocourti roughly resembles that of Callinectes sapidus, with spawning in high-salinity habitats (Norse 1978; Williams 1984).
Carrion, benthic invertebrates, plant material
Fishes, birds, humans
|General Habitat||Grass Bed||None|
|General Habitat||Coarse Woody Debris||None|
|General Habitat||Tidal Fresh Marsh||None|
|General Habitat||Salt-brackish marsh||None|
|General Habitat||Unstructured Bottom||None|
|General Habitat||Oyster Reef||None|
|General Habitat||Marinas & Docks||None|
|Salinity Range||Limnetic||0-0.5 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Oligohaline||0.5-5 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Mesohaline||5-18 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Polyhaline||18-30 PSU|
|Salinity Range||Euhaline||30-40 PSU|
Tolerances and Life History Parameters
|Minimum Salinity (‰)||0||Field occurrence, Jamaica (Norse 1978)|
|Maximum Salinity (‰)||34.5||Maximum field salinity (Jamaica, Norse 1978)|
|Maximum Width (mm)||156||Male (Williams 1984)|
|Broad Temperature Range||None||Subtropical-Tropical|
|Broad Salinity Range||None||Tidal Limnetic-Euhaline|
General ImpactsCallinectes bocourti is a fisheries species in its native range, but is considered less desirable than Callinectes sapidus (Blue Crab), because of its small size. It is not established in continental US waters, and has no reported impacts. However, researchers in the Gulf are concerned that if it becomes established, it could compete with the Blue Crab (USGS Center for Aquatic Resource Studies 2009).
Regional Distribution Map
|Bioregion||Region Name||Year||Invasion Status||Population Status|
|CAR-I||Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida||1950||Def||Unk|
|CAR-VII||Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida||1977||Crypto||Unk|
|G170||West Mississippi Sound||1971||Def||Unk|
|S196||_CDA_S196 (Cape Canaveral)||1968||Crypto||Unk|
|S180||St. Johns River||2002||Crypto||Unk|
|S183||_CDA_S183 (Daytona-St. Augustine)||2003||Crypto||Unk|
|G030||North Ten Thousand Islands||2005||Crypto||Unk|
|S090||Stono/North Edisto Rivers||2002||Crypto||Unk|
ReferencesBarnes, Robert D. (1983) Invertebrate Zoology, Saunders, Philadelphia. Pp. 883
Gore, Robert H.; Grizzle, Raymond E. (1974) Studies on decapoda from the Indian River region of Florida. III. Callinectes bocourti A. Milne Edwards, 1979 (Decapoda, Portunidae) from the central East Coast of Florida, Crustaceana 27(3): 306-309
Grosholz, Edwin (2011) Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. Pp. 125-128
Norse, Elliott A. (1978) An experimental gradient analysis: hyposalinity as an 'upstress' distributional determinant for Caribbean portunid crabs, Biological Bulletin 155: 586-598
Perry, Harriet M. (1973) The occurrence of Callinectes bocourti (A. Milne Edwards, 1879) (Decapoda, Portunidae) in Biloxi Bay, Mississippi, U.S.A., Crustaceana 25(1): 110
Perry, Harriet; Yeager, David (2006) <missing title>, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory- University of Southern Mississiuppi, Ocean Springs MS. Pp. 8
Rathbun, Mary J. (1901) The Brachyura and Macrura of Porto Rico, Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission 20(2): 1-127
Rathbun, Mary J. (1930) The cancroid crabs of America of the families Euryalidae, Portunidae, Atelecyclidae, Cancridae, and Xanthidae, United States National Museum Bulletin 152: 1-609
U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2002-2021 Invertebrate Zoology Collections Database. <missing description>
USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2003-2022 Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, FL. http://nas.er.usgs.gov
Williams, Austin B. (1984) Shrimps, Lobsters, and Crabs of the Atlantic Coast of the Eastern United States, Maine to Florida, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. Pp. <missing location>
Williams, Austin B.; Williams, David McN. (1981) Carolinian records for American Lobster, Homarus americanus, and tropical swimming crab, Callinectes bocourti, postulated means of dispersal, Fishery Bulletin 79(1): 192-198