Giant crab may have pinched record
Published 21/04/2010 | 12:57
A giant deep-sea crab who wandered into the nets of a Cornish fisherman is probably the largest ever found in British waters, experts have said.
The rare box crab, normally found at depths of three kilometres (9,842ft), was caught 80 miles west of The Scillies at 60 fathoms (110 metres, or 360ft) by skipper Matthew Keast, who was fishing for turbot.
The monster, nicknamed Spud due to its potato-like body, is believed to be only the eighth of his kind brought up in the UK since 1900.
After being hauled up into Mr Keast's boat, Harvest Reaper, Spud was taken to a specially chilled tank at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall.
Spud measures more than 3ft 3in long, bringing him at least level with the previous record-holder. He would almost certainly have surpassed that, but for a missing claw.
The previous record box crab was found five years ago by a Padstow fisherman, and measured 3ft 11in. The species is the largest found in the UK, and can grow up to 6ft 6in. But they are rarely seen in nets owing to the depths they lurk in.
Blue Reef manager David Waines said of Spud: "If he had his second claw intact he would probably be the biggest. He was in a boat for three days and we don't want to man-handle him too much, by getting out tape measures.
"I suspect he is a bit bigger (than the previous recorder holder) but we haven't got a second claw.
"This one probably strolled into shallow water at some point and the fisherman may not have realised what he had caught. It is an astonishing find. When you see him close up, he makes your flesh crawl with his long legs. It's like something from Alien or The Thing."
Staff are trying to feed him up on a diet of rotten starfish and say his lost claw may even grow back.