Tasmanian giant crab
|Tasmanian giant crab|
H. Milne-Edwards, 1834
Cancer gigas Lamarck, 1818
The Tasmanian giant crab, Pseudocarcinus gigas (sometimes known as the giant deepwater crab, giant southern crab or queen crab) is a very large species of crab that resides on rocky and muddy bottoms in the oceans off Southern Australia on the edge of the continental shelf at depths of 20–820 metres (66–2,690 ft). It is most abundant at 110–180 metres (360–590 ft) in the summer and 190–400 metres (620–1,310 ft) in the winter. The seasonal movements generally follow temperature as it prefers 12–14 °C (54–57 °F).
The Tasmanian giant crab is one of the largest crabs in the world, reaching a mass of 13 kilograms (29 lb) and a carapace width of up to 46 centimetres (18 in). It is the only species in the genus Pseudocarcinus. Males reach more than twice the size of females. It has a white shell with claws that are splashed in red. The females' shells change colour when they are producing eggs.
The Tasmanian giant crab feeds on carrion and slow-moving species, including gastropods, crustaceans (anomura and brachyura) and starfish. Cannibalism also occurs. They breed in June and July, and the female carries the 0.5–2 million eggs for about four months.
The Tasmanian giant crab has been commercially fished in Tasmanian waters since 1992 and a minimum size was established in Australia in 1993. Following concerns surrounding the sustainability of catch numbers, the total allowable catch was adjusted in 2004 to 62.1 tonnes (137,000 lb). Twenty-five operators competed for the catch in 2005, delivering a total catch valued at about A$2 million. The Tasmanian giant crab is very long-lived and slow-growing, making it vulnerable to overfishing. Before export, they are sometimes kept alive in tanks with water that is 10–14 °C (50–57 °F).
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- Media related to Pseudocarcinus gigas at Wikimedia Commons