Tasmanian giant crab

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Tasmanian giant crab
J J Wild Pseudocarcinus cropped.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Menippidae
Genus: Pseudocarcinus
H. Milne-Edwards, 1834
Species: P. gigas
Binomial name
Pseudocarcinus gigas
(Lamarck, 1818)
Synonyms [1]

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.[2][3] It is the only species in the genus Pseudocarcinus.[4]


The Tasmanian giant crab lives 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).[2][3] 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.[3] The seasonal movements generally follow temperature as it prefers 12–14 °C (54–57 °F).[3]


Tasmanian giant crab

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). Males reach more than twice the size of females.[5] This crab is mainly whitish below and red above; the tips of the claws are black.[6] 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.[3][5] Cannibalism also occurs.[3] They breed in June and July, and the female carries the 0.5–2 million eggs for about four months.[5]


The Tasmanian giant crab has been commercially fished in Tasmanian waters since 1992 and a minimum size was established in Australia in 1993.[5] Following concerns surrounding the sustainability of catch numbers, the total allowable catch was adjusted in 2004 to 62.1 tonnes (137,000 lb).[7] Twenty-five operators competed for the catch in 2005, delivering a total catch valued at about A$2 million.[7] The Tasmanian giant crab is very long-lived and slow-growing, making it vulnerable to overfishing.[5] Before export, they are sometimes kept alive in tanks with water that is 10–14 °C (50–57 °F).[3]


  1. ^ Peter Davie (2010). "Pseudocarcinus gigas (Lamarck, 1818)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved October 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Palomares, M. L. D. and Pauly, D., eds. (2013). "Pseudocarcinus gigas" in SeaLifeBase. December 2013 version.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Levings, A.H. & P.C. Gill (2010). Seasonal Winds Drive Water Temperature Cycle and Migration Patterns of Southern Australian Giant Crab Pseudocarcinus gigas. In: G.H. Kruse, G.L. Eckert, R.J. Foy, R.N. Lipcius, B. Sainte-Marie, D.L. Stram, & D. Woodby (eds.), Biology and Management of Exploited Crab Populations under Climate Change. ISBN 978-1-56612-154-5. doi:10.4027/bmecpcc.2010.09
  4. ^ P. K. L. Ng, D. Guinot & P. J. F. Davie (2008). "Systema Brachyurorum: Part I. An annotated checklist of extant Brachyuran crabs of the world" (PDF). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 17: 1–286. 
  5. ^ a b c d e D. R. Currie & T. M. Ward (2009). South Australian Giant Crab (Pseudocarcinus gigas) Fishery (PDF). South Australian Research and Development Institute. Fishery Assessment Report for PIRSA. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  6. ^ N. Coleman (1991). Encyclopedia of Marine Animals. Blandford, Villiers House. p. 107. ISBN 0-7137-2289-4. 
  7. ^ a b "Giant crab fishery". Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. December 15, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2010. 

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