Snappy Crabs


Who We Are

Charlotte Hillery

What We Did

Today consisted of two activities. The first was flipping crabs. I discovered that this really is a difficult and frustrating task for someone who is inexperienced in the art of crab flipping. We used omelet spatulas to scoop and flip the crabs over onto the tops of their shells so that their belly was showing on top.  We would then let the crab go and time how long it took for the crab to “right” itself. Meaning, how long it took for the crab to completely flip back over. This was difficult because the crabs would pinch onto the spatulas and just refused to let go. It was also difficult because you needed the crab to be completely flipped on its shell in the bottom of the bowl or else the time would not count. consistency matters!


The second activity was catching crabs. This one was something that I had done out  in the field but it was good practice doing it again just for the experience. We tied a chicken neck onto some fishing line and then tied the other end onto a ruler. The objective was to get the crabs to start eating the chicken and then scoop them up into a net and then into a separate bowl.

20140706_143738_resizedSince I had done this out in the field where you couldn’t see the crabs through the murky water, being able to see them made catching them much easier. I was more interested in watching them eat. It was something that you can’t see them do out in the field so actually seeing it eat was a different experience.

What We Learned

Flipping crabs: I learned that the appropriate time for a crab to “right” itself is about 1.5 seconds. If the crab takes longer than this time then there is likely something wrong with its physiology due to the toxins from the experiment.

Catching crabs: We learned that the crabs are a lot smarter than we originally thought they were. In the field the crabs are unable to see us because of the murky water so they go after the chicken necks with no hesitation. However in the kid pool the crabs seemed to be more interested in going after us than the chicken necks because they could actually see us since the water was clean and clear.

Questions We Have

In regards to the crabs not taking the bait in the kid pool, was there some way that was developed so that they would take the bait?

Connections to Teaching

Some good connections to teaching involving flipping crabs would be the timing aspect of it. Making sure that the time was accurate is something that students would need to practice to yield the most accurate results.

Another simple connection to teaching involving catching the crabs would be the importance of patience. Students should learn that Science is not always something that happens right away and that sometimes you have to be patient before a crab will take your bait.