The Japanese spider crab is the largest known arthropod. Fully grown, it attains a leg span of about 4 meters, a weight of about 20 kilograms and a body size of up to 37 centimeters. As it is a very old species of crabs, it is known as a living fossil. Let us know more about this animal.
Giant Japanese spider crabs, as their name suggests, are gigantic with eight thin legs and two feeding arms. They have orange bodies spotted in white. A large male spider crab, when spread out measures more than 3 meters long, with the width of its shell reaching to 30 cm wide and 40 cm long. It has a pair of compound eyes with two thorns sticking out between them. When young, the Japanese spider crabs have a hairy and thorny shell, which decreases in size with its advancing age.
The Japanese spider crabs are seen inhabiting the Pacific side of the Japanese archipelago. During the old times, Japanese spider crabs were found in the jungles of Japan. Their existence was feared by the population of the region. They live in the seabed to depths of 200 to 300 meters. Spring is their egg-laying season. The Japanese spider crabs lay eggs at shallow heights of about 50 meters in water. The Giant Japanese spider crabs tend to live in vents, which are quite big in size. To distract its predators, it often attaches sponges and other small animals to its shells. This is an intellect that nature has given it, to serve as its protection mechanism.
Giant spider crabs are omnivorous and are known to be scavengers. They consume algae, plants, small fish and mollusks. Their strong pincers help them catch their prey and tear their food before eating.
Fishermen hunt these crabs for meat. Their meat is delicious. Fishermen catch these animals with the help of trawling nets. They are commonly found on the Sagami, Tosa and the Saruga bays. They are also found in the Izu Islands. In and around the Suruga Bay, they are considered a specialty. Apart from their tasty meat, they are also hunted for research and ornamental purposes. Their hunting is banned during the period in which female spider crabs lay eggs. This is a measure taken to protect this species.
A Giant Japanese spider crab can appear scary to many, while some may find it thrilling to observe it closely. This animal being gigantic, looks ferocious. It is nonetheless a part of the ecological system and needs to be saved from extinction.