King crabs were due to make their first UK appearance at Scarborough Sea Life Centre today … just as their cousins in the wild are threatening an environmental crisis in the Antarctic.
Five of the massive crabs with metre-long claw spans will take centre stage at the Sea Life Centre’s new Crab Kingdom.
But an expedition by Southampton University evolutionary biologist Sven Thatje has just reported large numbers, possibly millions, poised to invade the Antarctic sea shelf.
The Antarctic has been free of shell-crushing crabs for 40 million years, and scientists fear hundreds of other molluscs – some of them the source of new medical treatments for ailments including skin cancer – could be wiped out.
“Little did we realise the significance of our new arrivals as we settled them into their new homes,” said Scarborough Sea Life senior aquarist Todd German.
“Scarborough’s quintet of king crabs has transferred from Blankenberge, Belgium and will star at the Sea Life Centre alongside equally huge Japanese spider crabs.
The centre has had to take special precautions with the water system feeding the king crab tank to ensure that no eggs or larvae escape back into the adjacent North Sea.
The only invasion triggered by Scarborough Sea Life’s King Crabs is likely to be an invasion of visitors.