seen? This boldly marked swimming crab is not often encountered
on the intertidal, perhaps it is more common in deeper water. Said
to inhabit sandy-muddy bottoms. Media articles suggest this crab is
not often encountered in our part of the region. It is also known
as Charybdis feriatus.
Features: Body width 5-7cm, to
20cm. Body somewhat fan-shaped, with 5 spines on the sides. The eyes
not far apart. Last pair of legs are paddle-shaped and rotate like
boat propellers. Body with bold wide dark lines often with a distinctive
white cross in the centre of the body which gives it its common name.
Legs with dark bands, pincers with white spots on dark background.
Holy crab? Some people believe
that these crabs were blessed by the missionary, St Francis Xavier.
The Jesuit story is that in February 1546, St Francis was caught in
a storm in eastern Indonesia. In an attempt to calm the storm, he
took his crucifix and dipped it into the sea, but it slipped from
his grasp and fell into the water. The next morning, as he reached
the shores of Seram Island, a crab with a cross-shaped mark approached
him holding his cross. Xavier knelt down, retrieved the cross, and
blessed the crab.
Human uses: The commercially most
important of the Charybdis species, caught by bottom trawls,
sometimes by traps and nets. It sells for a premium in East Asia.
More delicate than Mud crabs (Scylla sp.), it is usually sold
Chek Jawa, Jul 05
5 spines on the body side,
white cross pattern on its back.
*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of
swimming crabs on Singapore shores
- Lim, S.,
P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The
Life and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School
of Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of
Zoology, the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.
- Jones Diana
S. and Gary J. Morgan, 2002. A Field Guide to Crustaceans
of Australian Waters. Reed New Holland. 224 pp.