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Sunday 21 September 2014

Intrepid crabs cross the Atlantic to get to West Kerry

Published 14/11/2012 | 11:29

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Credit: Photo by Marian O'flaherty

TWO small, but mighty crabs are the centre of attention in Mara Beo in Dingle this week after crossing the Atlantic on a drifting barrel.

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The pair of tiny 'Columbus Crabs' were discovered on the beach in Stradbally on November 6 by Suzanne Hall of Dingle Oceanworld who spotted them amid goose barnacles on a washed up barrel. The Columbus Crab, also known as the Gulfweed Crab, is reputed to have been first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his voyages of discovery to the Americas.

The crabs were brought to Dingle Oceanworld for inspection and have been causing quite a stir in media circles since their arrival.

"Columbus crabs are not common in European waters and their main population appears to be in the western Atlantic, from the eastern United States to Uruguay, but also especially in the Sargasso Sea in an area sometimes referred to as the Bermuda Triangle," explained Dingle Oceanworld Manager, Máire Treasa Uí Shé.

"It is a small crab with rectangular carapace shell, about one to two centimetres across. They have fairly large claws for their size and hairy fringes to their legs to help them swim."

"These crabs spend all their lives drifting in the surface waters, but are not strong swimmers so they cling on to floating Sargassum weed or driftwood, buoys and other articles covered in barnacles, sometimes even on turtles," she explained.

The crabs, which are thought to have hitched a ride on the barrel across the Atlantic, have been adjusting to their new found fame in Dingle and are due to go on display in Oceanworld in the near future.

"These crabs are very rare here in Ireland, the last time we saw one was back in 2002 when it was discovered attached to a Loggerhead Turtle," Má ire Treasa added.

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