Japanese Spider Crab

Japanese Spider Crab - A Wonder Of Nature

The Japanese spider crab is a species that has a fierce and frightening appearance, but this only increases our fascination with them. If you want to learn more about this wonder of nature then you have come to the right place.

Did you know that the Japanese spider crab is the biggest arthropod that currently exists? When fully grown their legs have a span of around four metres, a total weight of approximately twenty kilograms, and a body of between 35 to 40 centimetres in size. It is a species that has been in existence for millions of years and has evolved very little in that time. For this reason it is often described as being a living fossil.

As with all crabs, the Japanese spider crab has eight legs, though these appear quite spindly and thin when compared to the rest of the body. They also have two feeding arms used to grab and subdue their prey. They are predominantly orange in color with white spots. It has a striking pair of compound eyes that have two thorn like growths which stick out from between. An immature individual would have a hairy shell that becomes less so as it grows in age.

The main habitat for these species is the area of the Pacific that surrounds the islands of the Japanese archipelago. It is believed that they once were found over a much larger area including the heavily vegetated shores that were previously common around the islands.


It was not so long ago that people feared their existence and thought of them as aquatic monsters. Today they are primarily found on the seabed, ranging in depth from two hundred metres to three hundred.

The Beauty of Japanese Spider Crab


It is during the spring time that these crabs lay their eggs, typically at depths of around fifty metres. It is common to find the Japanese spider crab inhabiting vents in the ocean floor that are large enough to accommodate their unwieldy frame. As a defensive and camouflage mechanism they can occasionally attach marine life such as sponges and other creatures to their shells. Such intellect is perhaps why they have survived since primeval times and continue to flourish today.

The Japanese spider crab is primarily an omnivorous species that can be found scavenging for food. They will consume plants, small fish, algae, as well as molluscs. Their large and strong pincers allow them to catch prey easily and tear it apart before consumption.

Spider Crab

We all understand how an ecosystem works. The basic principle is that every living thing is the food and nourishment for other creatures and animals, the Japanese spider crab is no different in this respect.


Today they are thought of as being a delicacy and so are fished in large numbers on an annual basis. Their meat is highly prized not just in Japan but around the world. Usually, to catch this variety requires large trawling nets.

For many years the spider crab has been described as a culinary delicacy. Typically, they are salted and steamed before being consumed. Many restaurants still cook them alive, though they may often be placed on ice before the process begins which slows down their metabolism considerably and therefore produces a state like hibernation. They are best cooked in brine for between fifteen to thirty minutes dependent upon size.

Fishing for Japanese spider crabs is common place around the bays of Tosa, Sagami, and Saruga where their existence has helped the local economy to be sustained and developed. It is not just for their meat that they are fished, a considerable number are taken out of their habitat for research and also for ornamental reasons.

They can easily be reared in an aquarium in the same fashion as other salt water invertebrates and fish.

Hunting the species is prohibited during the times when the females lay their eggs. This is an important measure that has been introduced to preserve their numbers and stop over fishing. All species have a right to live and evolve no matter what their size or exact nature. Though Japanese spider crabs may at first glance appear scary and frightening they are a wonder of creation.

There is nothing wrong with consuming spider crabs, though it is important to ensure that over fishing is not encouraged and also that cruelty is kept to a minimum when preparing and cooking the individual crabs.

This would help to ensure that they are still around in the future for coming generations to marvel at and enjoy.

Japanese Spider Crab

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