Authors: Katy & Sarah
Do you know where sand crabs find love? Is there such a thing as a Match.com for sand crabs? It just so happens that there’s a great spot for sand crab love, and it’s along certain parts of Ocean Beach.
Ocean Beach isn’t only a great spot for sand crabs to find love, but it’s also a near many new Marine Protected Areas in California. The National Oceanic Administration Association informs us that California has established 120 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that create safe environments for marine animals. MPAs conserve the nation’s cultural and natural resources and there are currently 437 MPAs in the United States. We wanted to study sand crabs on Ocean Beach so we could learn more about sand crabs and where they are most populated.
While researching sand crabs we found that there’s a difference in the abundance of female sand crabs with eggs along Ocean Beach. To summarize our data in the graph, we found that the north side of the beach has the most female sand crabs with eggs. This tells us that if we were to focus on protecting a certain part of the beach, we would consider protecting the north side from harmful situations more than the central or south side. By protecting the north side, we would be able to keep the sand crab population growing.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium states that seabirds and fish pose threats to sand crabs. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology also states that ravens pose a threat to sand crabs as well. To further our understanding of sand crabs, scientists could study what qualities of the north beach are attractive to female sand crabs with eggs. This information could help us improve beach management in California to enhance sand crab populations.
Our dataset, as a whole, had multiple limitations, including insufficient information on female sand crabs with eggs. This was due to only using one sampling date for every location. Using more dates would have increased the quality of our data, resulting in more informed results and a more detailed graph.
In conclusion, we discovered that there’s an unequal distribution of female sand crabs with eggs on Ocean Beach between northern, southern, and central locations. Knowing where the highest concentration of females with eggs are could be used to help conservationists or resource managers determine designated areas on the beach as an MPA site to protect sand crab populations. Information that could better our findings will hopefully progress with future data collection. While there may not be a Match.com for sand crabs, there’s definitely some sand crab love on Ocean Beach.