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STORMS BRING RARE TRANSATLANTIC COLUMBUS CRABS TO CORNWALL

December 2, 2015

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A rare species of crab which is reputed to have been discovered by Christopher Columbus has gone on display at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

Small groups of Columbus crabs have been washing up on the Cornish coastline, thousands of miles from their normal home along with exotic jellyfish and goose barnacles.

Seven of the tiny crabs are being looked after at the Towan Promenade wildlife attraction after being discovered stranded on local beaches.

“The Columbus crabs are currently on display in our nursery area, we’re keeping them under observation but considering how far they have travelled and their bumpy landing in Cornwall they are actually in remarkable good condition,” said Blue Reef Aquarium’s Steve Matchett.

“They usually spend their entire lives drifting on weed, driftwood, buoys or even attached to turtles in the open ocean.

“The most likely reason they have started appearing around the coast is they have been washed here by the currents, along with the mauve stingers and other more unusual ocean species.

“Although they only measure around four centimetres in size, the crabs have quite large claws which they use to hold on. They also have particularly hairy legs which help them to swim in the water.

“The species has a wide variation in colour and tend to blend in to suit their surroundings,” he added.

Also known as the gulfweed crab, it gets its common name from the belief it was initially identified by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the New World.

On September 17, 1492, in the Sargasso Sea he recorded ‘much more weed appearing, like herbs from rivers, in which they found a live crab, which the Admiral kept. He says that these crabs are certain signs of land’.

Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews, pictures and filming opportunities please contact Steve Matchett on 01637 878134.