The Coconut Crab

Big coconut crab with coconuts

This is a good sized coconut crab and they can get quite big. Their colors are quite brilliant in reds, blues and purples.

You can get some sense of this one’s size by noticing the husked coconuts underneath it. This guy was caught in Mopelia and was in a blue plastic drum when we saw it, being fed daily, so that it could be taken to their family in Maupiti for a treat.

We’ve learned a bit about catching them. You look for them underneath or on coconut trees in the piles of discarded nuts. They are easier to find at night when they are more active. They grow quite slowly and in some countries are considered an endangered species. In Suwarrow one of the snorkel expeditions stops at a motu and goes crab hunting. On the day that we were on that expedition, the ranger caught a bunch of adults and some juveniles, releasing them each time except the last two adults which were taken back to camp for tasting. They have a rich lobster-crab-crustacean taste. We aren’t planning on catching any ourselves because their populations are so easily impacted, especially by hordes of cruising boats like all of us, all looking to eat something novel as we migrate through these atolls. If every boat that went to an atoll took a crab, in a season we could demolish a population.