Japanese Spider Crabs Arrive At Aquarium

May 21, 2007

Despite their appearance, the crabs are docile

Some new guests joined the Claws exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium May 25. A group of Macrocheira kaempferi, also known as Japanese Spider Crabs were flown in from Tokyo, Japan to Portland where they cleared US Customs and an inspection by USF&W before they were driven to Newport by Aquarium staff.

“We’re keeping things interesting during the Claws exhibit by changing some of the species and exhibiting different types of arthropods,” said Aquarium Curator of Fishes & Invertebrates, Neil Allen. “The Japanese Spider crab is very popular in other aquariums because of its ‘other worldly’ appearance on exhibit.”

A fully grown Japanese spider crab can reach a leg span of almost 13 feet, a body size of up to 15 inches and a weight of up to 44 pounds. The crab's natural habitat is on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean around Japan, where it feeds on dead animals and shellfish. It is believed to have a life expectancy of up to 100 years. Because it is a particularly old species of crab, it is often referred to as a living fossil. The crab has an orange body and white spots on its legs. Its compound eyes are situated on the front, and two thorns stick out between them. The Japanese spider crab is also used for research and ornamental purposes. In spite of its ferocious appearance, it has a gentle disposition.