Sponge crab (Dromia personata)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



The body of this crab is often covered by an encrusting sponge, but is recognised by its distinctive pink pincers and the very small fourth and fifth legs. The carapace is oval, up to 5 cm long, 6.5 cm broad with three small teeth between the eyes and five strong ones on each side. The body and legs are covered with hairs giving the crab a furry appearance.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded from South West of England, the eastern English Channel, the Channel Islands, Lundy, Skomer and north Pembrokeshire, Cardigan Bay, Bardsey Island and the Llyn Peninsula.

Global distribution



Found on rocky or stony substrata from 10-30 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Carapace sub-globose, dorsally vaulted, surface with a fine pubescence obscuring regions.
  • Frontal region most advanced, sub-median lobes prominent, median ventrally placed.
  • Five antero-lateral teeth, third obscurely bifid.
  • Chelipeds stout, of equal size, segments of chelipeds and pereiopods with short, dense, pubescent setae.
  • Second pair of pereiopods longer than third pair, fourth and fifth pairs flattened, sub-dorsally placed and sub-chelate.

Additional information

Also commonly known as the sleepy crab.

Listed by

- none -


  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] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  6. Moore, J., 2002. An atlas of marine Biodiversity Action Plan species and habitats and Species of Conservation Concern in Wales, 2nd edn. Report to the Countryside Council for Wales, CCW Contract Science Report no. 509.


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-07-14


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2007. Dromia personata Sponge crab. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 14-07-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1232

Last Updated: 03/07/2007