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.

Callinectes bocourti
Callinectes bocourti
(Bocourt swimming crab)
Native Transplant

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Callinectes bocourti

Common name: Bocourt swimming crab

Synonyms and Other Names: Bocourt swimming crab; Cancer pelagicus deGeer 1778; Callinectes bocourti

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Description is taken from Williams (1974). Carapace with four triangular frontal teeth (does not include the inner orbital teeth) with tips reaching a nearly common level. Male abdomen and telson long, extending near the junction between thoracic sternites III and IV. First gonopods of male very long, often exceeding telson and crossed near tips, sinuously curved and overlapping in two places proximally. Mature female abdomen and telson reaching as far forward as in the male, sixth segment nearly as long as the fifth. Color is highly variable, but generally olive green to brown with reddish markings. Chelipeds red to dark reddish brown above and whitish below with a tinge of blue. Williams (1974) noted that the species exhibited morphological plasticity.

Size: Williams (1974) recorded a maximum size for males at 76 mm carapa

Native Range: Jamaica, Belize to Brazil. Callinectes bocourti has its center of abundance in coastal waters of northern South America (Williams 1974).

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

Nonindigenous Occurrences: The first report of this species in the United States was in Biscayne Bay, Florida (Provenzano 1961): a mature male was collected on 12 December 1950 and accessioned into the University of Miami Marine Laboratory Museum (UMML 32845). It was also collected in a canal in Palm Coast development, St. Augustine, Florida (Anonymous 2004). Prior to this occurrence, the northernmost record for this species was Montego Bay, Jamaica. Perry (unpublished data) noted several extra-territorial occurrences of C. bocourti from 1971 to 1999 in the Biloxi Bay estuary, with all specimens collected in the fall of the year. The first Mississippi specimen was collected in a crab trap by a commercial fishermen in 1971 (Perry 1971). A single juvenile specimen was collected in Mobile Bay, Alabama in 2000. The species has also been reported from the Atlantic coast from Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina (Gore and Grizzle 1974, Williams and Williams 1981, and Knott, pers. com.; Jackson; Voss; Knott; Gleeson; Ehlinger) and more recently from the Gulf Coast of Florida at Fakahatchee Strand in Collier County, Florida in January 2005 (Perry, pers. comm.).

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 Callinectes bocourti are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL200020001Mobile Bay
FL1950202111Big Cypress Swamp; Cape Canaveral; Daytona-St. Augustine; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Floridian; Lower St. Johns; Nassau; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; St. Marys; Vero Beach
GA200820232Ogeechee Coastal; St. Marys
MS197119991Mississippi Coastal
NC197719771Lower Cape Fear
SC197720216Broad-St. Helena; Bulls Bay; Cooper; Edisto River; Salkehatchie; South Carolina Coastal

Table last updated 2/25/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Williams (1974) attributed North American records to drift of larvae or juveniles from the Caribbean via currents associated with the Gulf Stream. Williams and Williams (1981) suggested that later growth stages might be transported by swimming or by attachment to flotsam. The latter authors also provided additional evidence of drift as a means of transport by noting the presence of tropical fauna along the North Carolina Coast associated with southerly storm events. The occurrence of other non-indigenous portunid species in the mid-Atlantic Bight (Perschbacher and Schwartz (1979) led Williams and Williams (1981) to speculate that transport via major eddies in the Gulf stream or major southern storm events was responsible for their presence in numbers in Atlantic Coast estuaries. Perry (pers. com.) and Hartman (pers. com.) attribute the occurrences of C. bocourti in Mississippi and Alabama, respectively to ballast transport of megalopae associated with trade from the Caribbean.

Status: Extra-territorial occurrences in the northern Gulf of Mexico are sporadic and suggest that the species is not currently reproducing. Data from Atlantic Coast estuaries also suggest that populations are not established.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


Callinectes bocourti is associated with C. sapidus in many estuaries along the South and Central American coasts. The two species share similar life history traits, thus competition for food and refuge may occur. Although C. bocourti is commercially exploited in Central and South America, it is a smaller crab and less desirable for processing in the United States. Competition among C. bocourti, C. sapidus, and C. similis in northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries may limit populations of one or more of the species. Chace and Hobbs (1969) and Norse (1975) note that C. bocourti can exist in polluted, muddy waters and that C. sapidus is absent from these areas in the Caribbean.

Callinectes bocourti has been shown to have a dietary overlap, and therfore consume nearly the same prey items, as C. sapidus, the native blue crab. Although this might be evidence for possible competition between the two species in C. bocourti's introduced range, both did coexist in the study area of their native Puerto Rico (Stoner and Buchanan 1990).

Remarks: Schubart et al. (2001) compared 15 sequences of the 16S mtDNA of C. maracaiboensis and C. bocourti from the Lake Maracaibo area of Venezuela and found no consistent differences between the two portunids.  They suggest that rather than constituting a separate species, C. maracaiboensis represents a phenotypic extreme of C. bocourti.

Callinectes bocourti was collect off the coast of Suriname aboard the R/V Pillsbury at station 664 in July 1968 in 7 meters of water and deposited at the University of Miami Marine Laboratory Museum (UMML 32.3694).

References: (click for full references)

Chace, F. A. and H.H. Hobbs.  1969.  The freshwater and terrestrial decapod crustaceans of the West Indies with special reference to Dominica.  Bulletin U.S. National Museum 292:1-258.

Gore, R.H. and R. E. Grizzle.  1974.  Studies on decapod Crustacea from the Indian River region of Florida.  III.  Callinectes bocourti A. Milne-Edwards, 1879 (Decapoda, Portunidae) from the central east coast of Florida.  Crustaceana 27(3):306-308.

Hartman, L.  2000. (personal communication).  Alabama Department of Natural Resources, Dauphin Island, Alabama.

Norse, E. A.  1975.  The ecology of blue crabs, genus Callinectes (Brachyura:Portunidae) in the Caribbean.  Dissertation, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, 259 pp.

Perry, H. 2004. (personal communication).  Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Perry, H.M.  1971.  The occurrence of Callinectes bocourti (A. Milne-Edwards, 1879) (Decapoda:Portunidae) in Biloxi Bay, Mississippi, U.S.A.  Crustaceana 25(1):110.

Perschbacher, P.W. and F. Schwartz.  1979.  Recent records of Callinectes danae and Callinectes marginatus (Decapoda: Portunidae) from North Carolina with environmental notes.  Fishery Bulletin 76(4):879-880.

Provenzano, A.J.  1961.  A North American record for Callinectes bocourti (A. Milne-Edwards, 1879) (Decapoda, Portunidae).  Crustaceana 3(2):167.

Schubart, C.D., J.E. Conde, C. Carmona-Suarez, R. Robles, and D.L. Felder.  2001.  Lack of divergence between 16S mtDNA sequences of the swimming crabs Callinectes bocourti and C. maracaiboensis (Brachyura: Portunidae) from Venezuela.  Fishery Bulletin 99:475-481.

Stoner, A.W., and B.A, Buchanan. 1990. Ontogeny and overlap in the diets of four tropical Callinectes species. Bulletin of Marine Science 46(1):3-12.

Williams, A.B.  1974.  The swimming crabs of the genus Callinectes (Decapoda: Portunidae).  Fishery Bulletin 72(3):685-798.

Williams, A.B. and D. M. Williams. 1981.  Carolinian records for American lobster, Homarus americanus, and tropical swimming crab, Callinectes bocourti, postulated means of dispersal.  Fishery Bulletin 79(1):192-198.

Other Resources:
Blue crabs of the South Atlantic Bight - South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Author: Perry, H.

Revision Date: 9/13/2019

Citation Information:
Perry, H., 2024, Callinectes bocourti: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2252, Revision Date: 9/13/2019, Access Date: 2/25/2024

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.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [2/25/2024].

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