DOE study aims to understand habits of Cayman's black land crab

Jul 14, 2017 Environment

Meanwhile, along the Queen's Highway in East End, an entirely different scientific survey is underway. The Department of Environment (DOE) is looking into the habits of one of Cayman's often overlooked animals, the black land crab. As day turns to night, University of Central Oklahoma grad student and DOE intern Kinsey Tedford are counting crabs, in this case, what's left of them. "I come out here every night and I count crabs off and on the road. I know the rainfall amount, and the lunar phase pattern, and I'm trying to find relationships between the two," said Ms. Tedford. Once the roadkill numbers have been tallied, Ms. Tedford combs through the bush in search of other specimens. Ms. Tedford told Cayman 27 the ecological role of the land crab is often overlooked. "You have the crabs feeding on leaf litter, carrion, fruit, and they are bringing these food items into deeper layers of the soil, and that helps in nutrient recycling, and in return, dispersing those seeds makes plants grow, and those protect our shores," said Ms. Tedford. The females must return to the sea to lay their eggs. Ms. Tedford showed Cayman 27 the black spongy mass of eggs on this female's underside. It's not glamorous, but Ms. Tedford told Cayman 27 she enjoys it. She hopes through her research, we can glean a better understanding of these animals. "There's different environmental factors like temperature, humidity, rainfall, lunar phase patterns that can all trigger when these crabs are moving," said Ms. Tedford. Ms. Tedford has been studying terrestrial crabs in Cayman since 2015. She said she hopes to incorporate the data from her study into her master's thesis.