spider crab

spider crab

Spider crab (Libinia)

Any species of sluggish marine crab in the widely distributed family Majidae (or Maiidae). Spider crabs have a beak-shaped head; thick, rounded body; and long, spindly legs. They use a mucuslike mouth secretion to fasten algae, sponges, and other organisms to the hairs, spines, and knobby projections covering the body. Most species are scavengers, especially of carrion. Their size varies greatly. The body of the European long-beaked spider crab (Macropodia rostrata) is less than 0.5 in. (1 cm) in diameter, whereas the Japanese giant crab (Macrocheira kaempferi), whose outstretched claws can measure 13 ft (4 m) from tip to tip, is perhaps the largest known arthropod.

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The portly spider crab, Libinia emarginata, is a species of crab found in estuarine habitats on the east coast of North America from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico. This crab grows to about 10 cm (4 inches) across its back, which is spiny and often covered with a "garden" of sponge and seaweed. The carapace is shiny, covered with short hairs, and its color varies from brown to a dull yellow; the tips of the claws are white. The hairs on the shell attract algae, barnacles, and debris. They like to camouflage after moulting. The portly spider crab is very slow moving, and is a scavenger.

For amateur fishermen they are generally not considered edible, as opposed to the blue crab which is often found in the same waters.

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