Mutant crab caught by fisherman
Published 06/04/2011 | 12:42
A mutant three-clawed crab has been hauled up in a fisherman's lobster pot.
The sea monster, which has an extra set of pincers growing from beneath its shell, was caught off the coast of Northumberland.
Amble fisherman Jeff Handyside donated the eight-inch edible crab to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, where staff have nicknamed him Claude.
Blue Reef's Anna Etchells said: "It's rare to find crustaceans with extra claws. Very little research work has been done on this so no-one really knows why this sometimes happens, it could be due to environmental factors or be a genetic mutation.
"Crabs, like other crustaceans, are capable of re-growing limbs and claws if they lose or damage them in a fight.
"It is also possible that somehow Claude's ability to regenerate lost limbs has got confused and, rather than replacing a missing set of claws, he's actually ended up growing an extra pair instead.
"Although the extra claws look impressive they can't actually function so he's no more dangerous to handle than any other crab. Except for the extra pincers he's in excellent condition and they clearly haven't prevented him from hunting and scavenging successfully."
The edible crab is the largest of the crab species commonly found around the British Isles. It has characteristic large black-tipped claws and a pie-crust edge to the shell which make it easily identifiable.
Males can weigh up to three kilogrammes.
Bizarrely, a mutant lobster, which also had an extra claw, was caught in the same area by Mr Handyside's brother last year.