02 2 / 2013

Japanese Spider Crab, Macrocheira kaempferi
The largest crab in the world in terms of legspan (up to 12 feet from claw to claw; their carapace is 15-16 inches long and they weigh up to 41 lbs.), these creatures are found on the ocean floor on the continental shelf near Japan, especially off the southern coast of the island Honshu, at depths of up to 2000 feet. They are largely scavengers that will feed off animal remains but will also eat live kelp and algae, fish and invertebrates. They are capable of living to 100 years old.  The front limbs—called chelipeds—are tipped with pincers.  In males, they are longer than the crabs’ legs; the females are shorter.  Although most species of spider crab camouflage themselves by attaching sponges and plant matter to their carapaces, these crabs do not often do this because their size deters most predators—except humans.  The crabs are considered a delicacy in Japan, and although catching them is banned during the spring when the crabs spawn, their population is declining.(x)(x)(x)

Japanese Spider Crab, Macrocheira kaempferi

The largest crab in the world in terms of legspan (up to 12 feet from claw to claw; their carapace is 15-16 inches long and they weigh up to 41 lbs.), these creatures are found on the ocean floor on the continental shelf near Japan, especially off the southern coast of the island Honshu, at depths of up to 2000 feet. They are largely scavengers that will feed off animal remains but will also eat live kelp and algae, fish and invertebrates. They are capable of living to 100 years old.  The front limbs—called chelipeds—are tipped with pincers.  In males, they are longer than the crabs’ legs; the females are shorter.  Although most species of spider crab camouflage themselves by attaching sponges and plant matter to their carapaces, these crabs do not often do this because their size deters most predators—except humans.  The crabs are considered a delicacy in Japan, and although catching them is banned during the spring when the crabs spawn, their population is declining.(x)(x)(x)

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