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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

Making Turtle Waves

The look on Keilan Fowora’s face was priceless. “Are these real?” asked the seven-year-old, running his fingers over a sea turtle shell and the sharp teeth on a shark jaw bone. “Yep, they’re real,” assured Heather Detwiler, outreach associate for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, standing behind the table at Tacoma’s STAR Center. Then Keilan’s … Continued

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Spider crabs make a scientific splash

Aquarist Mikiko Williams, clad in a black wetsuit, stood in the Japanese Spider Crab habitat at the Pacific Seas Aquarium, reached down, gently picked up an animal that weighed about 8 pounds and hoisted it up and out of the water. It was just after 8:30 a.m., the Zoo would open in an hour, and … Continued

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Caring for the small: Rockfish and seahorse

In a corridor surrounded by pipes, tanks and equipment, three women crouch over a tub. One – an intern veterinarian – carefully handles a Q-tip swab. The second – a veterinarian – readies a microscope slide. The third – an aquarist – has her gloved hands submerged, gently holding a china rockfish. A fourth aquarist … Continued

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