Ghost Crabs Of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

PORT DOUGLAS | Walk along Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland, and you’ll notice millions of little sand balls and tiny holes spread across the shoreline below the high tide mark. You might wonder what’s going on, as I did when I encountered them for the first time.

They are the creation of ghost crabs that inhabit the beach. At twilight each day, as the tide retreats, thousands of ghost crabs emerge from the holes and begin to feed on microscopic material in between sand grains. Once they’ve stripped the sand of nutrients, the ghost crabs roll the sand into balls, and throw it behind them. Some arrange the balls in piles, others in rows that radiate out from their burrow.

Ghost crabs are named for their generally pale colours, translucent appearance, nocturnal lifestyle, and the way that they seem to appear out of nowhere, and disappear just as fast, as they move through their burrows. Ghost crabs aren’t harmful, and hide when they sense danger, making them hard to spot.

You may spot a ghost crab on the beach during the day, but blink and you’ll miss it. The scientific name for ghost crabs is ocypode cordimana, meaning swift foot. Accounting for scale, if a ghost crab was the size of a human, they’d move anywhere between 340 to 530 kilometres and hour.

Four Mile Beach

5 Esplanade
Port Douglas
Queensland 4877

Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.


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