People all across the world like eating shellfish, and different varieties of crab are regional specialties. The enormous size of coconut crabs is well-known, but are they edible? Can people consume coconut crabs?
What Is a Coconut Crab?
Large hermit crabs known as coconut crabs (Birgus latro) live almost exclusively on land. These crabs have a maximum length of three feet and a maximum weight of nine pounds. They are the largest terrestrial arthropods still living on Earth due to their enormous size.
Adult coconut crabs can drown, despite the fact that they are aquatic creatures at birth. This is due to their inability to draw oxygen from water and their need for specialized lungs for breathing air.
Ten times more powerful than the average human’s hand grip are their enormous claws. They have two legs on each side of their body, and the left claw is bigger than the right. When necessary, they can lift slightly more than 65 pounds.
Where Do Coconut Crabs Live?
In locations like the Pitcairn Islands, Tuvalu, the Caroline Islands, the Mariana Islands, Kaledupa Island, Christmas Island, the Seychelles, and Zanzibar, coconut crabs can be found on islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are extinct in most historical locations with a significant human population, including Madagascar and the Australian continent, where they were once common.
Though they are terrestrial animals that live their entire lives above water, coconut crabs begin their life as larvae and, after a month, take a shell and return to the water. After that, mature coconut crabs grow an exoskeleton and stop living in the water. It is known that they live to be older than sixty.
These enormous crabs live in coastal rainforests and stony places with enough dirt for good burrow construction. That’s why secluded tropical islands and atolls are the remaining uninhabited areas where they still thrive.
Can Humans Eat Coconut Crabs?
Yes, humans can eat coconut crabs. The most valued body parts are their eggs and belly fat, while their sweet meat is also regarded as a delicacy in many regions. They have a meat that is creamier and less salty, and are said to taste like a cross between a lobster and a snow crab.
In many parts of the world, people have eaten them to extinction due to their great size and deliciousness. They are also quite easy to catch because of their moderate speed on land.
Some places have harvesting quotas or outright bans on the trade of coconut crabs since they are a threatened species that has been driven extinct in population centers due to their use in human food. Understand the regulations and morality surrounding the harvesting of coconut crabs in your region before consuming them.
In rare cases, coconut crabs can become toxic if they consume certain plants. The planet’s poison can also be found in their flesh if they have consumed plants like sea mangoes (Cerbera manghas).
Coconut crabs will cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to shellfish. They must be cooked all the way through, just like any other shellfish, to prevent foodborne illness.
What Do Coconut Crabs Eat?
The primary sources of nutrition for a coconut crab are seeds, fruits, nuts, and other soft plant material. They will exploit any flesh sources they come across, such as young turtles and tiny crabs. They will even consume any animal they can overwhelm, including wild birds, cats, hens, and poultry.
Even though they don’t typically hunt, they occasionally do. They actively search for large nesting birds, rodents, and other coconut crabs.
Though their name suggests a close association with these crabs and coconuts, their ability to thrive without the trees suggests a less than strong real-life correlation. To elude predators, they frequently scale coconut palms, and they consume coconuts. They are capable of dehusking coconuts, dropping them from a height, and using the inside meat as they burst.
Is the Coconut Crab the Largest in the World?
No, the world’s largest crab is not the coconut crab. Macrocheira kaempferi, the Japanese spider crab, is the largest crab in the world. Their body length is one foot, and they have a legspan of up to twelve feet.
Off the southern coastlines of Japan’s Honshu are home to these spider crabs. Although their exact depth range is unknown, they are frequently seen in water that is 50 degrees and approximately 1000 feet below the surface. Certain Japanese spider crabs have a long lifespan; some have been known to live to be 100 years old.
Japanese Spider Crabs: Can Humans Eat the Largest Crab in the World?
The largest spider crabs in the world, Japanese spider crabs, are indeed edible to humans. Although overfishing has historically had an impact on these crabs, conservation initiatives are supporting the sustainability of the fishery. Japanese spider crabs are highly prized in that country.
Japanese spider crabs are comparable to American king crabs in terms of fanciness. They cost the same as well. They are nevertheless available on some menus, but because they run out quickly, be sure to call ahead.