Marine Biology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 135–141 | Cite as

Activity, track and speed of movement of the crab Scylla serrata in an estuary

  • B. J. Hill


Ultrasonic transmitters were used to track the movements of the crab Scylla serrata (Forskal) over 24 h periods in the Kowie estuary, South Africa. Laboratory experiments using infra-red time-lapse photography to record activity indicated that the transmitters did not affect duration of emergence, amount of movement or feeding. In the estuary, S. serrata was active on average for 13 h. out of 24 h, most activity was at night. The distance moved per night by continuously tracked crabs averaged 461 m, but ranged between 219 and 910 m. Most movement was slow, modal speed was 10 to 19 m h-1. Slow movements were independent of direction of current and are assumed to be related to use of contact chemoreception for location of prey. About one-seventh of movements were faster than 70 m h-1; these were most frequently against the current and may be related to olfactory location of food. The crabs did not occupy a distinct territory, but tended to remain in the same general area although they were capable of moving at least 800 m along the length of the estuary at night.


Laboratory Experiment Photography Slow Movement General Area Record Activity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. J. Hill
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoology DepartmentRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Queensland Fisheries ServiceBrisbaneAustralia

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