one day at a time

day 268: japanese spider crab

japanese spider crab © Verena Fischer 2012

japanese spider crab © Verena Fischer 2012


At the beginning of the month I remembered that a few years ago I sent a certain picture of a monstrous prehistoric spider creature to a friend who’s a tad afraid of spiders. This random thought sent me off searching the internet for monstrously big spiders and almost immediately I stumbled over a creature that really can give you the creeps: The Japanese Spider Crab. It can grow up to a span of 4 m and the picture I found showed it with a Japanese man, who seemed so disproportionally small in comparison that me and my brother both thought it was a fake on first sight (see here). However, turns out these creatures are quite real and I spent an evening looking at videos showing them moulting and walking around in their creepy spidery way. By some strange coincidence I then found out that the SeaLife Centre here in Berlin actually had one of these monsters on display at the time. Of course I had to go and investigate.

I tell you, it was quite a fascinating sight. Although still a youngster and probably a female as well, considering that the clawed legs were shorter than the others, it had quite an impressive size. In fact it seemed somewhat too big for the small tank it inhabited and it was constantly trying to get out through the glass, dancing and clicking its legs against the window. Especially strange were the movements of its claws that danced this way or that, until finally it gave up and turned its backside to me. A small crab was in the same tank and occasionally started to attack the monster’s legs, largely ignored by the in comparison giant creature looming above. I’m not convinced that the Sealife Centre is actually giving it the right environment, since it seemed desperate and like a caged animal. Normally the SeaLife Centres are quite good and have quite a bit of space, but in this case I found the desperation of the creature quite disturbing especially considering that it also lost one of its legs. Such things happen and crabs grow legs back with every time they moult, but I can’t help feeling a bit concerned for the well-being of this creature, despite its alien appearance.

Speaking of well-being of oceanic life: Today I also saw a video that shows the incident for which Captain Watson of the Sea Shepherds might get extradited to Costa Rica. I referred to this cause already recently and suggested to read up on the issue and the really brilliant work the Sea Shepherds are doing out there on the oceans. After seeing the video I can only say it again: Get involved, write to the German officials and demand his release (he’s still under house arrest after paying bail), since he is one of these people who actually does the things that we should be doing to save our oceanic biodiversity.

If the criminals in question weren’t finning sharks, but instead were trafficking drugs openly, there would be no question about Captain Watson’s actions and everyone would realise that this extradition request can only be politically motivated. If you look at the footage, you will realise that he didn’t even intend to ram them, but was rather saying “This is gonna be close …” So, all they did was scare some criminals by coming very close to their boat, which is nowhere near ‘attempted murder’ as it says in the arrest warrant. Maybe they risked ramming the boat, but since there was no intention and no harm done I think this hardly even warrants a fine. If it had been official authorities going after these criminals they would have used much more drastic measures to stop them, also considering that we are talking about a mafia here and about organised crime.

Seeing such videos makes me want to go out there myself. In fact I was considering such missions when I was deciding whether to start an apprenticeship or volunteer for a year in a conservation project when I was 19. Although I know that I get motion sickness and probably wouldn’t have fared very well on a ship, I still should have done a conservation project in retrospect.

By the way, if you ever come to Berlin, make sure you get to see the AquaDome. It’s a glass elevator that goes up into a rather large aquarium and it’s quite a cool experience. I have been meaning to go for years and finally managed to see it after my encounter with the Spider Crab.


4 responses

  1. Great Japanese crab.. 🙂

    May 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm

  2. It’s hard to believe that “poaching” is still big business in this day and age and that people still buy into the notion that these things have some kind of medicinal value. I would volunteer for the sea shepherds in a minute!

    May 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  3. VERY cool, Ms. F…
    although I have to admit when the page first loaded I had the briefest of AHHHH! moments…

    June 1, 2012 at 1:39 am

  4. Pingback: Sea Shepherd « experiments in experience

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