Claude The Monster Crab
Just imagine that, at full stretch – in comparison to a UK shore crab with a claw span of only 3.5in – Claude’s monster span would be over 3ft, and if he lost a claw he would just regenerate it.
When a Tasmanian fisherman snagged a truly immense crab – which he immediately named Claude – the prospect of a gigantic crab supper was averted by his selling the beast to him to a British aquarium for £3,000.
Tasmanian King Crab is, not surprisingly, a delicacy in its native Australia, but a British aquarium worker was on hand to pay £3,000 for Claude and two other examples – thinking it a genuine bargain., because although Claude now weighs a full 15lbs in weight and is 15 in across, he is still a juvenile, and when fully grown will weigh twice as much and be at least 3in broader.
The three crabs underwent a 29-hour plane journey from Australia –saved from the supper table – giant crab meat being an Australian delicacy – and after two weeks confinement in quarantine, are now ready to go on public display.
At 100 times the size of a standard UK shore crab, Claude will be on show from Thursday next at the Weymouth Sea Life centre in Dorset, on Thursday, while the other two will be seen at other centres in Birmingham and Berlin – as long as Claude responds to his new home happily, though at present he is being kept alone in a specially made 10ft by 6ft cylindrical tank.
Once settled into the aquarium some coldwater fish will be introduced, though in truth, for such a large crab, he has a very small appetite, feeding mainly on shrimp, prawns, and squid when available, though in the wild crabs eat any dead or dying matter they happen find on the seabed.
Claude currently feasts on diced mackerel and squid very happily, and is thought to be such an impressive creature that it was worth the cost and effort of flying them halfway round the world. As in many other crab species, Claude has one claw – the prey crusher – much bigger than the other, though the smaller claw could still crack a walnut or sever a human finger. Just imagine that, at full stretch – in comparison to a UK shore crab with a claw span of only 3.5in – Claude’s monster span would be over 3ft, and if he lost a claw he would just regenerate it.
All crabs, including Claude of course, have their teeth in their stomachs, and have to grow themselves a new shell every five years. Claude is not of the species which holds the title of largest crab – that belongs to the Japanese Spider Crab, which reach over 40lbs in weight and as much as twelve ft across, with long legs fully splayed. Claude was fortunate enough to be one of the few hatchling crabs to reach maturity – most end up feeding other predators – and he still expect to be around 20 years from now. What a great spectacle for the visitors.