History of Crabs
Crabs have been around for a really long time. These are ancient creatures residing on our planet Earth for 200 million years. Their existence goes way back to the Jurassic era. Now, crabs are endangered, thanks to habitat long along with intensive hunting. The latter has led to 1.5 million tons of these creatures being cooked every single year.
A Little More About Them
There are more than 4500 species of crabs, and they are members of the crustacean family. They differ in size and can be as massive as the 12 feet long Japanese Spider Crab or as tiny as the Pea Crab, which is merely 0.25-0.47 inches long. These omnivorous invertebrates feed on worms, mollusks, other crustaceans, bacteria, fungi, and algae.
Bairdi crabs have five pairs of limbs, out of which the first contains pincers. They have short tails, and their bodies are mostly made up of a carapace or shell with a little abdominal flap. A variety of snow crabs, these creatures are also known as Tanner crabs. These are decapods that can go up to weigh four pounds. Their diet primarily consists of worms, clams, and other crustaceans present at the ocean’s bottom. Owing to the pincer claw in the front legs, these are also known as the ”true” crabs. These crabs have had their fair share of suffering because of overfishing.
It has led to the implementation of strict controls on fisheries specializing in this kind of crab. Bairdi crabs are the largest among all the varieties of snow crabs. They are usually eaten boiled, steamed, sautéed, roasted, or even grilled.
The Latin word used for blue crabs translates to “beautiful swimmers”. It is an apt name as these crabs are blue-green in colour and look gorgeous. Frequently found on the Eastern coasts of the United States, these crabs can grow up to a size of 3.5 to 5.5 inches and even larger, at times. Although they have a beautiful blue shade, these turn into a reddish colour, just like other crabs, when they get cooked. Their meat is sweet and tender, and these crabs are among the most heavily harvested creatures of the world. These omnivores dwell at the bottom, and the males can be as long as nine inches within their shells’ width.
Also known as a palm thief or a robber crab, coconut crabs are the largest arthropods living on the land. They can weigh as much as nine pounds, and their length can reach up to 16 inches. Also, a single leg of the coconut crab can cover three feet at once, but they cannot reach their maximum size until they are around 40 to 60 years of age. Owing to their love for coconuts, these creatures are called coconut crabs. They are so about coconuts that these crabs even climb tall trees to get them. These are various Hermit crabs, but coconut crabs do not have a shell after fully growing up, unlike the other crabs. They feed on seeds, meat, fruits, and nuts.
They have a unique trait of surviving under the waters for really long periods. These can eventually drown if stayed underwater for way too long. In regions around the Indian and Pacific oceans, coconut crabs have two main predators- human beings and other coconut crabs.
Dungeness crabs are extraordinarily massive and generally weigh from 1.75 up to 4 pounds. Their bodies are purplish-brown in colour and are found in the Alaskan waters near the Baja region of Mexico. These are named after Dungeness, a town previously located in the Washington State. The law only allows the male of the species to get harvested. Moreover, this is permitted only after the male crabs reach a minimum length of 6.25 inches.
Their pink flesh is pretty sweet and succulent. Winter is the prime season of these crabs. With five pairs of legs and tough shells, Dungeness crabs live up to ten years. Hooks and lines, nets, baited pots, and hands are used for capturing them. They taste delicious and hence, are among the famous crabs to eat.
Hermit crabs are petite and pretty fun to play with. Therefore, people purchase these as pets for young kids. There are over a thousand species of these crabs, which are divided into seven families. Their gastropod shells hide their soft abdomens when they grow bigger. With no shells, they are vulnerable to the predator’s attack. Not only do the shells serve as protection, but they also make for safe hiding spots for the crabs whenever necessary. The shells are so important that they are even known for killing their kind for stealing their shells.
Hermit crabs vary in size and lifespan. They can survive for thirty years, while some can even die in a few months. Hermit crabs are pretty social in the wild. They live in large colonies, and it might also be to steal the shells of other crabs.
The appearance of this crab is similar to that of a horseshoe, hence, the name. An exciting aspect of the horseshoe crab is that it has been on Earth for approximately 500 million years. These are found from Nova Scotia to Yucatan along the coast of Atlantics and India, the Philippines, and Asian coasts. Even though the shell-to-meat ratio is comparatively small, these crabs are still delicious and, of course, edible. They are frequently found on the beaches of Florida. Their spike-like tails can scare many people and are considered dangerous, although those tails are harmless.
However, picking a horseshoe crab by its tail is never a good idea as it harms the creature. You will be surprised to know that horseshoe crabs possess ten eyes, and they are not even crabs! They are more closely related to animals such as scorpions, spiders, and even ticks.
Usually referred to as the Japanese crab, Alaskan King crab, or the Russian crab, these crabs can grow up to 10 feet and weigh close to 25 pounds. Even though they are quite massive, just one-third of the king crab is edible- primarily the legs and claws. Just like other crabs, the law only allows for harvesting the male king crabs. Their meat is snowy white in colour and has a delicate, delicious flavour. Their outer edge is bright red in appearance.
Until 1997, peekytoe crabs were regarded as throwaway products by the lobster fishermen. These were of little use to them. These are mainly Maine or sand crabs, but after these crabs were renamed “peekytoes, ” they became famous. Their meat is white in colour with small pink-coloured flecks and has an extremely sweet flavour. Chefs across the world enjoy this taste. Their meat is so good that it has become trendy among chefs. They use peekytoe crabs in everything, from crab rolls to salad and a lot more. (See 45 Types of Fish)
Also known as snow crabs, these reside along the Eastern coasts of the United States and other water bodies. Their legs make them look a lot like spiders, so they are also known as spider crabs. You can also call them tanner crabs or Queen crabs. The ones found in the Bering Sea live around 650 feet down the water surface, in muddy or sandy environments. In their lifetime, rock crabs generally migrate from the shallow towards the deep waters. These crabs use a unique method to protect themselves.
Using one of its legs with a little circular groove at its base, the rock crabs snap off a leg if held by their predator. It can use this method when its leg gets entangled, and it has no way of escaping. Getting its leg snapped off is not an issue as it can easily grow it back.
Stone crabs possess huge claws, which are extremely hard and have plenty of meat inside. Just the claws of these crabs are eaten. As their claws regenerate every eighteen months, the fishermen generally snap off a claw and then toss them into the waters. That leaves them with only one claw for defending themselves. As per law, you need to boil the stone crabs for seven minutes and then put them on ice or freeze them. Without being frozen, these crabs can develop an unpleasant iodine flavour.
To know which claw contains the highest amount of meat, chefs make these crabs float in water tanks. Crabs with low meat content keep floating on the top while the other crabs are sold as “lights.” They have a sweet, succulent taste with a lovely firm texture. They need to grow up to a size of 2 to 2.75 ounces. Generally, a mallet is used for cracking them open before serving them with an array of dipping sauces.