A sea monster ... and he's still a nipper! Monster Tasmanian King Crab saved from the pot and shipped to Britain for aquarium display
Claude weighs a mighty 15lbs and measures 15 inches wide and would have produced 20lbs worth of meat
By Jill Reilly and Emily Andrews
PUBLISHED: 13:51 GMT, 30 April 2012 | UPDATED: 08:10 GMT, 1 May 2012
He was destined for the pot – if they had found one big enough to fit. But Claude the Tasmanian giant crab was saved from death when the fisherman who caught him sold him to a British aquarium for £3,000. Now, after a 29-hour plane journey from Australia – where giant crab meat is a delicacy – and two weeks in quarantine, Claude is ready to meet his public.
Catch of the day: Held up by Sealife aquarist Jemma Battric, Claude weighs a mighty 15lbs and measures 15 inches wide - when he is fully grown he will weigh a whopping 30lbs and gain an extra three inches
Lucky escape: The Tasmanian King Crab is a delicacy in its native Australia and was destined for the dinner table until it was snapped up by a British aquarium worker. He paid £3,000 for three and had them flown to the UK
He will go on display at the Sea Life centre in Weymouth, Dorset, on Thursday, and his two companions will be moved to other centres in Birmingham and Berlin if Claude responds well to his new home. Currently he is being kept on his own in a specially made cylindrical tank, ten feet tall and six feet wide, but the aquarium will introduce some coldwater fish once he is settled.
Mini me: Claude dwarfs a British Shore crab who is put on his back for size and to show just how gigantic he is
Big crab, small appetite: 'The crabs don't eat very much despite being one of the largest species and they will feed on shrimp, prawns, and squid when they are here,' said Jemma Battrick, aquarist at Weymouth Sea Life
In the wild, crabs eat any dead or dying matter they find on the seabed but Claude is currently dining on diced mackerel and squid and is reportedly very happy with his gourmet diet. Rob Hicks, head marine biologist for Sea Life, said: 'They are such impressive creatures we thought that it was worth the cost and effort of flying them halfway round the world so they can flourish in an aquarium display. 'They had a stopover in Hong Kong and arrived with us two weeks ago. It took them a few days to get over the jet-lag but now they're feeding happily and don't seem any the worse for their trip.' Jemma Battrick, aquarist at Weymouth Sea Life said: 'When I found out we were getting the crabs in I was really excited.
Massive claws: Rob Hicks, head marine biologist for Sea Life, said: 'They are such impressive creatures we thought that it was worth the cost and effort of flying them half-way round the world to so they can flourish in an aquarium display'
'We already have a tank here for them so it will be easy to move them in, and they will go on display straight away.
'The crabs don't eat very much despite being one of the largest species and they will feed on shrimp, prawns, and squid when they are here.
'We want to increase their numbers but in Australia people eat them and I think visitors to the Sea Life will be shocked when they find that out because they look so magnificent.'