Giant Japanese Spider Crab

Macrocheira kaempferi

About This Animal

SIZE: Body to 15 inches diameter. Leg span to 15 feet

RANGE: Pacific Ocean near Japan

HABITAT: Seabed at depths of 500 ft to 1000 ft, or more. Giant spider crabs migrate up to 160ft depth during breeding season

DIET: Pacific Ocean near Japan

ON EXHIBIT:  Boneless Beauties at Ocean Journey

The giant spider crab is the largest known species of crab and may live up to 100 years.  The Japanese name for this species is taka-ashi-gani literally translating to “tall legs crab.”  Their armored exoskeletons help protect them from larger predators such as octopi, but giant spider crabs also use camouflage. The crab's bumpy carapace blends into the rocky ocean floor. To further the illusion, a spider crab will adorn its shell with sponges and other animals.

The spider crabs are considered a prized delicacy in many parts of Japan.  They are caught using small trawling nets.  Harvesting of the crab is forbidden during the spring, when crabs move to shallower water to reproduce.  Populations of this species of crab have diminished over recent years and there are many efforts to protect them.