Coconut crab is frighteningly large

On the plus side, that means it makes a great comic photo prop. Here, blogger Angelo O'Connor Villagomez plays Edward Crabhands.

Native to a wide range of Pacific islands, the crabs used to be plentiful. Sadly, they're one of those creatures that humans have eaten into being an endangered species. These crabs can live for up to 60 years and (get this) they're not even the largest species of crab in the world. That would be the Japanese spider crab.

See a slideshow of coconut crab photos at Environmental Graffiti

Via Craig McClain



  1. every time i eat crab — which is becoming less and less because of this thought — i recall how they are basically giant sea spiders.

    1. Have you considered taking this conclusion in the other direction and consuming a steamed tarantula with delicious butter?

    2. Look, lobster is the roach of the sea, but melted butter and a bib can make you overlook certain unsavory facts.

          1. I’m sure that at every Weathervane in New England, roaches are boiling right along with all the lobsters.

      1. I read that in Miracle Max’s voice from Pricess Bride.

         “Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice CLT: a crab, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the crab is nice and soft and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.

    1. I had heard they tasted like coconut (it being basically their entire diet).  Do they taste like coconut chicken?

      1. They actually eat everything they can get their claws on.  Coconuts, fruits, seeds, carrion, rats, other crabs and quite possibly Amelia Earhart’s corpse.

  2. Another fun fact — these guys are descended from hermit crabs. They have two pairs of stumpy little legs in the back that would hold the shell, and their ass curves to one side to accommodate the shell’s shape.

  3. Coconut crab no understand why you share feelings with.  Coconut crab just want to eat coconut.

      1.  Such an insult!  We’re nowhere near as primitive as those disgusting creatures!  Why, our eyes are so advanced and complex we can pick out only the best garbage to eat!

  4. “. . .humans have eaten into being an endangered species. ”  Yeah, well, it’s their own fault for being so damn delicious.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a black rhino in the oven.

  5. I watched that Man & Wife survival show and they were on a small island eating these things.   A crab that subsisted on coconuts is pretty tasty. 

    1. Wondered how they open coconuts, which are tough. The answer: collectively. Still don’t see how. Two hold the coconut; one swings the machete?

      1. From Wikipedia: 
        …if the coconut is still covered with husk, it will use its claws to rip off strips, always starting from the side with the three germination pores, the group of three small circles found on the outside of the coconut. Once the pores are visible, the coconut crab will bang its pincers on one of them until they break. Afterwards, it will turn around and use the smaller pincers on its other legs to pull out the white flesh of the coconut. Using their strong claws, larger individuals can even break the hard coconut into smaller pieces for easier consumption.

  6. I saw a documentary on these things once when I was “chemically inconvenienced” – ahem – I now have a phobia about crabs in general… 

  7. We were shown how to catch these in Vanuatu. It’s pretty complicated; you go for a walk during the day, pegging out opened coconuts under coconut palms, then go for another walk a few hours after dark and pick up the crabs. We weren’t allowed to keep any, but we bought one from a market on another island. Tastes like lobster to me, slightly coconut-y. 

  8. I terrorized my Werewolf: The Apocalypse players with flesh-eating coconut crab spirits once in the ’90s. I’m not sure they’ve forgiven me yet :D

  9. Japanese spider crabs live in the ocean, though. Coconut crabs live on land, which makes it harder to be large. They’re the largest land arthropod, IIRC.

  10. “they’re not even the largest species of crab in the world. That would be the Japanese spider crab.”

    I thought that the largest species of crabs in the world in order were:
    1. Varanger King Crab
    2. Tasmanian King Crab
    3. Japanese Spider Crab

    Japanese Spider Crabs have the longest legspan, but they are not the largest…or least this is what I was taught.

  11. I ate coconut crab at a little French place in Port Vila, Vanuatu. I guess that was about 1997 or thereabouts, even 15 years later it’s still one of the greatest meals I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious.

Comments are closed.