A Japanese spider crab called “Big Daddy” was the world’s widest crustacean in captivity ever, measuring 3.11 metres (10 ft 2.5 in).
Big Daddy was also awarded the record for the longest leg on a crab ever, measuring 1.43 m (4 ft 8.5 in).
He was named after the British professional wrestler Big Daddy (1930-1997), whose real name was Shirley Crabtree Jr.
Big Daddy (the crab, not the wrestler) lived at Sea Life Blackpool, UK, arriving from Japan in 2013.
He was originally due to be killed and sold as food at a Japanese fish market, but a Sea Life representative bought him instead.
Big Daddy avoided an early death and was transported across the world to England, where he was placed in a spacious Sea Life cold water tank.
The colossal crab quickly settled into his new home. Sea Life staff often fed him by hand, and Displays Curator Scott Blacker would occasionally climb into the tank to clean his shell, keeping it free from parasites.
Big Daddy passed away peacefully in 2016, aged approximately 80 years old.
He had grown lethargic in his old age, showing no interest in any attempts to perk him up.
Scott expressed his deep sadness at the loss of Big Daddy, who was “more like a member of the family than just an animal in our care.
“He was clearly a very elderly crab, and it seems he had simply reached the end of his natural lifespan.”
Japanese spider crabs are found, as their name suggests, in Japan, off the southern coast of the island of Honshu.
The literal translation of the species’ Japanese name, taka-ashi-gani, is “tall legs crab”.
They generally live in deeper parts of the ocean, inhabiting vents and holes. During springtime, they move to shallower waters to mate and spawn.
Japanese spider crabs are omnivores with a varied diet. They consume algae and plant-matter after scraping it from the ocean floor with their long legs, which they also use to pry open mollusc shells.
They can also act as scavengers, eating dead fish that they come across.
Japanese spider crabs employ two methods of defence against predators. Their armoured exoskeleton enables them to protect themselves against larger threats such as octopuses, while they also use camouflage to evade other predators.
Their bumpy shells help them blend into the rocky ocean floor, and they also decorate their shells with sea sponges and other small creatures in order to further blend into the environment.
Due to their number dwindling over the last 40 years, a Japanese law was put in place to prohibit fishing for spider crabs during their mating season.
Hopefully, as their number steadily recovers, we will one day come across another record-breaking specimen; a Bigger Daddy!
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