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Japanese spider crabs

Did you know?

Macrocheira kaempferi

It’s not a spider – but it looks a bit like one! With a leg span up to 12 feet, this is the biggest crab species in the world.

Meet our giant crabs

Living deep down
in the Pacific.
Japanese spider crabs live in the deep, cold depths of the Pacific ocean around Japan. Our crabs share a habitat inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium, just near the entrance.
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Living deep
and eating off the floor
Imagine the Seattle Space Needle, pointing 600 feet under the ocean…that’s how deep these crabs like to live!
They scavenge the sandy sea floor for dead plants and animals – with a live treat whenever they can catch it.
From legless larvae
to long-legged giants
Female spiders crabs carry fertilized eggs on a part of their abdomens until they hatch into tiny planktonic larvae.
These look nothing like adult crabs! Instead, they are small, round, legless and transparent, and drift in the ocean.
Crab camouflage
Cover your carapace
Some young crabs “decorate” their carapaces with small anemones or algae as camouflage.
But adults rarely do – they’re too big to have to hide from predators!

Protect the Ocean

It takes all of us.

THE THREAT: Ocean animals are in danger – from humans. Our plastic and oil spills engulf them. Our boats and nets overfish them. And our carbon dioxide warms their world.

TAKE ACTION: Stop using straws, bottles and other single-use plastic. Drive less, recycle more. Pick up pet poop and avoid pesticides. Eat sustainable seafood. And speak up. Together we can protect the ocean.

Aquarium Stories

Sculpting Sand Species

Q: Where in the world would you find an elephant, a sea turtle and an axolotl all together? A: In Species in the Sand, the new sand sculpture this summer at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Beginning mid-May, our sculpting team led by Tacoma native Sue McGrew will return to create another incredible sculpture – … Continued

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X-ray Vision, Underwater

It’s magical enough to stand inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium and gaze at shimmering scales, cruising sea turtles or impossibly long wolf eels. But with x-ray vision, a whole new underwater world reveals itself. Thanks to our veterinary team, who regularly take radiographs of our Pacific Seas Aquarium animals to check on their health and … Continued

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Making Turtle Waves

UPDATE: May 1, 2019 We did it! We made 3,600 paper turtles, glueing them onto ten blue silk “waves” to create a cascading spiral of ocean beauty in the Pacific Seas Aquarium. And we raised $10,068 for ocean conservation, thanks to the Ocean Art Challenge sponsored by the Bezos Family Foundation, and all the hundreds … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Love our spider crabs? Then look for our jellies, just down the “shimmer” ramp!