Distinguishing between dead crabs and molts

When posting pictures of crab shells found along beaches on iNat, I am often unsure of whether to tag the species as dead, because I have a hard time distinguishing between dead specimens and molts. What can I look for when finding these shells to determine the difference?

I’m definitely not an expert, but one thing I look for are signs of trauma, like tears, scratches, etc. What I believe are molts are usually pretty intact or, if they’re not, they’ve been broken by wave action and not a predator trying to break its way in. Also, the parts of the exoskeleton covering the eyes are nice and empty.


https://wsg.washington.edu/crabteam-moltvsdead-1/ :slightly_smiling_face:


Wow this is an excellent resource, thank you!

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also not an expert, but I usually look at the eyes. if they’re transparent and look hollow, it’s probably a moult

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