Japanese Spider Crab – Macrocheira kaempferi

Don’t I look musselcular?

Konnichiwa! The Japanese spider crab, also known as the giant spider crab, is the largest crustacean (aquatic invertebrate with external skeleton (exoskeleton), segmented body, and jointed appendages) in the world, growing up to a length of 4 metres. Before you think it’s the Godzilla of the sea, consider that 4 metres is the length with its legs extended.

These crustaceans are commonly found on the south side of Honshu Island, Japan, in between the stretch of TokyoBay and Kagoshima Prefecture.

Do not fear me.

“What am I?”

Sometimes a name does not make a person. While it is called a “spider” crab, it is nowhere near being a spider, or more specifically, an arachnid. While both arachnids and the Japanese spider crab are classified under the broad category arthropoda, the Japanese spider crab has eight legs and two chelipeds, whereas are legs with pincers attached, while arachnids have eight legs. This, we must say, is a huge relief – no thanks to getting pinched by land-roving spiders.

The Disappearing Act

Despite a growing population, there is a decline of Japanese spider crabs in shallow waters, due to reasons like habitat destruction.  Most of them are now found only in the deep seas. Some of them have even packed their bags and found a new place to stay near Su-ao inTaiwan.

Although they are not endangered, restrictions are being put to limit them from being caught, especially during the spawning or egg-laying season in spring.

Love the close-up. don’t you?

Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

Coloured a vivid reddish-orange with white spots, it looks like it’s bathed in the blood from prey it ruthlessly killed with sharp, unforgiving scythe-like pincers; which could probably land it a main role in the next sea-monster horror movie. But the truth is despite its gigantic proportions and sinister looks, the Japanese spider crab is a docile creature with gentle disposition. They are scavengers, feeding on scraps off the ocean floor and sometimes, kelp and algae, making them omnivorous.

Trivia Time: How long can Japanese spider crabs live up to?
Japanese spider crabs are known to live up to 100 years old – that’s longer than an average human being!

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