Päpaka/Tunnelling Mud Crab Austrohelice crassa
Endemic. Not assessed
A frequently seen animal on the mudflats around the Estuary and is easily observed from the viewing platform on Dawick Street. As their name suggests they are enthusiastic tunnellers and can have a very complex burrow system which they diligently clean out at low tide.
Scavengers by nature, they will eat not only carrion, worms and algae (seaweed) but also rummage through mud for morsels to eat.
As far as mud crabs go, they are a small species with a carapace (shell) growing to a maximum of 40mm. Eyes are on stalks and these are reputed to see movement up to 40 metres distance but even so, they are a favourite prey of kōtare/kingfishers around the Estuary which hunt them from perched on tree debris or other structures that provide them with some elevation.