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A bizarre-looking American crab which is renowned for its aggressive behaviour has been discovered living in Portsmouth.
The blue swimmer crab was taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium after being caught by a member of the public in Portsmouth Harbour.
The crab, which measures more than 20cms across and has a pair of vicious claws, was in poor condition when it arrived in a bucket.
However, within hours of being transferred into a quarantine tank at the aquarium it had fully revived and was proving quite a handful for staff there.
Blue Reef Aquarium Displays Supervisor Robbie Robinson said:
“We have to be very careful when handling this species of crab as it is extremely aggressive and has large, fast-moving claws which attack anything that comes too close,” said Robbie.
“Their claws are powerful and very sharp and once they get hold of something, they rarely let go!" he added.
As its name suggests it is a very strong swimmer and is also noted for its extreme aggression.
The crab can deliver an extremely painful pinch and is noted for being difficult to handle safely by novices.
“Although these crabs are originally from the Americas it’s thought that individuals have been accidentally transported over to Europe in ships’ ballast,” said Robbie.
“There are now populations found in the Mediterranean and around the Japanese coast. It has also been identified in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Black Sea,” he added.
The blue swimmer crab is caught extensively for food in the US. In 1993 the blue crab fishery in Maryland was worth in excess of $100 million. In recent years numbers have crashed from an estimated 900 million individuals to 300 million probably due to overfishing.
In 1989 the species was designated as the state crustacean for Maryland. The blue crab's scientific name translates as "beautiful swimmer that is savoury" and the meat is often compared to the sweetness of lobster meat.