The Japanese spider crab is the largest crab in the world thanks to its long legs, which can span up to 13 feet. It is also one of the longest-lived crabs, living as long as 100 years.
The Japanese spider crab lives in the cold deep waters off the Pacific coast of Japan, where it scuttles along the seafloor scavenging for food, typically dead organisms and occasionally living kelp and algae. Japanese spider crabs scavenge alone and are not known to communicate; their sensory systems are less sensitive than those of close relatives since they don’t hunt.
These crabs are dark orange or light tan and most adults do not camouflage beyond occasional sponges, as they are large enough that they have few predators. Because the Japanese spider crab’s legs are long and weakly jointed, they are often lost to predators and fishing gear. But amazingly, these crabs can survive missing up to three legs, plus these limbs regrow when the crab molts.
There is little population data for this species, but reported catches are declining. Japanese spider crabs are protected during their breeding season.
Learn more about other fascinating creatures in our marine life encyclopedia!