Velvet Swimming Crab

Velvet swimming crab ©Paul Naylor

Velvet swimming crab

Scientific name: Necora puber
Look out for the bright red eyes of this speedy crab in rockpools - but be careful, they're notoriously feisty and will give a painful nip!

Species information


Shell width: up to 10cm across

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The velvet swimming crab comes exactly as advertised. Their body is covered in short hairs that give a velvet appearance and are soft to the touch, just like velvet. Like all swimming crabs, their rear-most legs are flattened like paddles, helping them swim effectively. They are speedy underwater and will catch swimming prey like fish and prawns, as well as munching on easier catches like worms, clams and sea snails. If you spot a crab with a big orange mass on their underside, don't worry - those are their eggs! Females carry the fertilised eggs around with them, protecting the eggs from hungry predators. An egg-carrying female is referred to as "berried". They live in rockpools on the shore and in shallow waters below the tideline.

How to identify

A medium sized crab with distinctive bright red eyes. Their bodies are covered in short hairs, giving them a velvet appearance. velvet swimming crabs have blue lines on their legs and blueish tips to their strong claws.


Found on all UK coasts.

Did you know?

The velvet swimming crab is also known as "Devil Crab". Whether they got this name from their red eyes or from their feisty behaviour, we're not sure - but we do know that we wouldn't put our fingers anywhere near their claws!

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any rocks you turn over, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.