The Kamchatca goes by a number of names; Paralitodes camtschatica, Giant Pacific Crab or the Red King Crab, however it is best know by its recent popular title of ‘Giant Killer Crab’.
It has earned this title from the press reporting around the world that has charted an amazing story, that over the last 10 years an army of ‘Killer Crab’ has advanced 400 miles along the seabed of Russia, Norway, and south round to the Lofoten Islands of Sweden (so far). The crabs had originally been introduced to the Barents Sea off Russia in the 1930’s by Stalin as a scheme to provide food for north west Russia. Estimates of their population now in Norwegian waters run as high as 1 million.
These crabs can weigh up to 11kg (25lbs) and can have a claw span of 1metre (over three feet). They are incredibly adaptable and can survive on varied food; dead fish, fish eggs, seaweed, kelp and shellfish. It will also eat crushed shells to yield the calcium for its own shell development.
The consequence of this diet is the eradication of all other life on the seabed, leaving a desert where they have been. The Norwegian fishing industry have also been required to quickly adapt to the reduced numbers of fish, by changing over to catching the crabs themselves. The crabmeat is considered a delicacy and just one leg can provide a man with a full meal.
Whilst there have been requests by experts to try and halt the crab’s relentless march south, it is generally considered to be an impossible task. One hope now lies in the warmer waters of the North Sea being a deterrent to their progress. If not, then progressing at their current pace the crabs could be expected on the UK coastline within the next 30 years. Scientists fear that due to the resilience of the crab, and the adaptability shown so far, it could even advance as far south as Gibraltar.
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