information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Flying crab (Liocarcinus holsatus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



Very similar to Liocarcinus depurator but lacking any ridges. The body is brownish-grey, tinged with green and grows up to 4 cm long. It is longer than it is wide, more or less smooth, without bristles. It has three blunt teeth between the eyes, the middle one sometimes shortest. It is host to the parasitic barnacle Sacculina carcini in some areas.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

All British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution



Found in rock pools, in the shallow sublittoral and offshore, on sand, gravel, mixed and hard substrata.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Lacking in transverse crenulations on carapace.
  • Three similar sized lobes on frontal margin, central one sometimes shortest.
  • Chelipeds equal, slender, with a sharp tooth on the outer edge of the carpus.
  • Orbits smaller, and posterior edge of carapace narrower, than in Liocarcinus depurator.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  2. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Ingle, R.W., 1980. British Crabs. Oxford: British Museum (Natural History), Oxford University Press.

  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  6. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2005. Liocarcinus holsatus Flying crab. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 19-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 24/11/2005