A2 Cover Story

The Secret Life of the Japanese Spider Crab

I am a Japanese spider crab. I look like a spider, I really do. I have very long legs. I bet you won’t believe how long my legs are. If I open my legs end to end, they are almost as long as three people!

I was born in the waters of Honshu island. That is an island in Japan. My mother carried all her babies under her belly. When I was small, I did not look like my parents at all. Some people say I looked like a fat prawn when I was a baby. When my mother let go of all of her babies, we floated below the water where there was lots of food to eat.

My Japanese name is taka-ashi-gani. It means “tall legs crab”. In English, I am called the Japanese Spider Crab. I really do look like a big spider with long legs.

As I grew up, I also grew long legs and a hard shell. The shell is quite hard. It keeps me safe. When I am too big for my shell, I have to, much like a tarantula spider. I come out of my old shell. It is hard to get my long legs out of the old shell. I have to pull and push very hard. The new shell is soft at first. When I get out, I let my new shell become hard. I do this a few times until I am an adult.

My legs are very long. I also have two long claws. I use them to catch food. My shell is rough and has many bumps. Octopuses like to eat small spider crabs. However, when we are adults, we can fight them and they do not eat us any more. I usually stay deep in the sea near large rocks and corals because I can easily hide there. I look like a coral if I stay very quiet and do not move.

I cannot move very fast even though I have long legs. I eat anything I can catch. I am an omnivore and will eat plants and animals. Many times, we spider crabs lose a part of our leg or claw. When that happens, we find it hard to move and find food.



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bump (n) – something that is raised; speedbump
coral (n) – a living organism in the sea that is home to many marine life
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