The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Charybdis hellerii
Charybdis hellerii
(Indo-Pacific swimming crab)

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Charybdis hellerii

Common name: Indo-Pacific swimming crab

Synonyms and Other Names: Goniosoma hellerii A. Milne-Edwards, 1867; Charybdis (Goniosoma) merguiensis Steinitz, 1929; Monod, 1930, 1931, 1932; Chopra, 1935

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The spine on the posterior margin of the carpus of the fifth leg separates this crab from other species of Charybdis (Stephenson et al. 1957).  Lemaitre (1995) described this species as follows: dorsal surface of the carapace is naked; anterolateral margin with 6 sharp, black-tipped teeth (including outer orbital).  Frontal region with 6 prominent teeth: 2 inner orbitals plus 4 blunt submedial teeth, latter reaching slightly in advance of orbitals.  Chela stout; palm with 5 strong black-tipped spines on distal posterior margin; propodus with row of spines on posterior margin. Sixth abdominal segment of male about as broad as long, posterodistal margins rounded; telson bluntly triangular, basal width less than distal width of six abdominal segment. Overall color dark green except for light purple area on upper, inner surface of palm and dark purple on dorsal surfaces of distal 4 segments of walking and swimming legs.  Carapace with pale green or whitish areas on frontal, hepatic and epibranchial regions.  Fingers of chelipeds dark purple.

Size: Female specimens from U.S. waters range from 47 to 62 mm carapace width; male specimens from 74 to 83 mm carapace width.

Native Range: Japan, Philippines, New Caledonia, Australia, Hawaii, and throughout the Indian Ocean, including the Red Sea (Stephenson 1972, Kathirvel and Gopalakrishnan 1974, Vannini 1976, Javed and Mustaquim 1994).  

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Charybdis hellerii are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL199520099Carolinian; Daytona-St. Augustine; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Floridian; Lower St. Johns; Nassau; St. Marys; Vero Beach
GA202020201Cumberland-St. Simons
NC200420082Pamlico Sound; White Oak River
SC198620215Bulls Bay; Carolina Coastal-Sampit; Coastal Carolina; Edisto River; South Carolina Coastal

Table last updated 9/25/2021

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Both ballast water (Lemaitre 1995) and drift of juveniles from Cuba (Gomez and Martinez-Iglesias 1990) have been suggested as a means of introduction.

Status: Presence of gravid/ovigerous females in Florida and South Carolina suggest that a reproducing population may establish itself.  Lemaitre (1995) noted  the potential of this species to successfully colonize marine ecosystems of South Florida and the Gulf of Mexico and observed that the presence of adults and juveniles in the Indian River leaves little doubt that there is a reproducing population in that area of Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: The larvae of C. hellerii have not been described (Lemaitre 1995). Other species of Charybdis for which the complete larval development is known, have five to six zoeal stages and a megalopal stage (Greenwood and Fielder 1980, Fielder et al. 1984).  Fecundity of C. hellerii ranges from 22,517 to 292,050 eggs per female (Siddiqui and Ahmed 1992).  Stephenson et al. (1957) noted that this species prefers soft bottom habitat, but can also be found on rocky bottom and among live coral.  Lemaitre (1995) noted that C. hellerii is the third introduced decapod crustacean to become established along the North American Atlantic coast.  Specimens collected in Florida by Lemaitre (1995) were deposited in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution under catalogue number USNM 275907.

References: (click for full references)

Campos, N. H. and M. Turkay. 1989. On a record of Charybdis helleri from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Senck. Mar. 20: 119-123.

Fielder, D. R., J. G. Greenwood and G. Campbell. 1984. The megalopa of Charybdis feriata (Linnaeus) with additions to the zoeal larvae descriptions (Decapoda, Portunidae). Crustaceana 46: 160-165.

Gomez, O. and J. C. Martinez-Iglesias. 1990. Reciente hallazgo de la especie indopacifica Charybdis helleri (A. Milne Edwards, 1867) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Portunidae) en aguas cubanas. Caribb. J. Sci. 26: 70-72.

Greenwood, J. G. and D. R. Fielder. 1980. The zoeal stages and megalopa of Charybdis callianassa (Herbst) (Decapoda: Portunidae), reared in the laboratory. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 91: 61-76.

Hernandez, G. and J. Bolaos. 1995. Additions to the anomuran and brachyuran fauna of northeastern Venezuela. The Crustacean Society Summer Meeting, May 25-27, 1995 [abstract].

Javed, M. and J. Mustaquim. 1994. New record of an acorn barnacle, Chelonibia patula (Cirripedia, Thoracica) from Pakistan. Crustaceana 66: 124-126.

Kathirvel, M. and K. N.Gopalakrishnan. 1974. On the occurrence of Charybdis (Charybdis) hellerii (A. Milne Edwards) (Decapoda: Portunidae) along the west coast of India. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 16: 286-287.

Lemaitre, R. 1995. Charybdis hellerii (Milne Edwards, 1867), a nonindigenous portunid crab (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) discovered in the Indian River lagoon system in Florida. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 108: 643-648.

Siddiqui, G. and M. Ahmed. 1992.  Fecundities of some marine brachyuran crabs from Karachi (Pakistan).  Pakistan Journal of Zoology 24:43-45.

Stephenson, W. 1972. An annotated check list and key to the Indo-West-Pacific swimming crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda: Portunidae). Royal Society of New Zealand Bulletin 10: 1-64.

Stephenson, W., J. J. Hudson and B. Campbell. 1957. The Australian portunids (Crustacea; Portunidae). II. The genus Charybdis. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 8: 491-507.

Vannini, M. 1976. Researches on the coast of Somalia. The shore and the dune of Sar Uanle. 8. Notes on Atelecyclidae and Portunidae (Decapoda Brachyura). Monitore Zoologico Italiano, Italian Journal of Zoology, suppl. 8: 119-127.

Other Resources:
Charbybdis hellerii (Portunid crab) (Gulf of Mexico Program)

Author: Perry, H.

Revision Date: 1/7/2020

Citation Information:
Perry, H., 2021, Charybdis hellerii: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=191, Revision Date: 1/7/2020, Access Date: 9/25/2021

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2021]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [9/25/2021].

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