October 12, 2016
A rarely seen type of crab which spends most of its time hidden in the sand has gone on display at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The mysterious masked crab was hauled up in the pots of a local Newquay fisherman who said he had never seen anything like it in more than 40 years of fishing.
The bizarre-looking crustacean is native to UK waters, however it is hardly ever seen as it lives buried in the sand with just its long antennae protruding.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Lara Mingay said: “This is an extremely unusual type of crab and it’s great for visitors to get the opportunity to see such an elusive species.
“Crustaceans come in so many extraordinary shapes and sizes and have such a fascinating life history that they are always popular with the public.
“This particular crab is a fine looking specimen and in excellent condition and we’d like to thank the fisherman for bringing it in to us,” she added.
Also known as the helmet or sand crab, the masked crab gets its common name from the markings on the back of its carapace which are said to resemble a human face.
Although only relatively small in size, adults tend to measure around 10 centimeters in total length, they have extremely large claws. Males’ claws are much longer than their bodies.
The crabs use their two long antennae to ‘breathe’ while submerged in the sand. They act like a snorkel, bringing oxygen-rich water down through the sandy seabed.
The masked crab feeds mainly on burrowing invertebrates; including worms and moll uscs. Females carry eggs for around 10 months, and can reproduce repeatedly for several years.
Issued on behalf of the Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange picture/interview opportunities please contact Melissa Harding or Lara Mingay on 01637 878134.