The coconut crab is a crustacean behemoth that normally makes the Indian Ocean islands its stomping grounds. It has no business stalking the streets of Honolulu. However, that's exactly what one crab was found doing this holiday week. Now it will spend its New Year's Eve locked up on the vacation island.
The enormous anthropoid in question (Birgus latro) was reportedly nearly a foot-and-a-half long and just about three pounds, but the animal can grow up to a whopping nine pounds. When Charles Darwin came across the crabby behemoths when traversing the Keeling Islands, he described them as "monstrous," observing massive males that could lift stones weighing a stunning 61 pounds (28 kg) and husk whole coconuts with their powerful arms.
It's no wonder then, that motorists unfamiliar with the alien-like crustacean were stopping their cars in the middle of Honolulu's Salt Lake Boulevard to stare.
"It just kept walking, like there was not a care in the world, when it crossed the street," Holly Cantere told KHON2, a local news station, on Monday. "Everybody slowed down like it was a pedestrian."
Not soon after this sighting, animal control professionals were contacted, and the crab was taken into captivity.
Trenton Yasui, an invertebrate specialist with Hawaii's Department of Agriculture, told local ABC affiliate KITV4 that while one lonely and lost coconut crab cannot do much harm, its threat as an invasive species should not be taken lightly.
"The Coconut Crab ... would feed on various native birds and turtles potentially," he said, "and it also could present a human health hazard for children and also for home pets."
Still, it's unlikely that this crab is a vanguard for a mounting invasion. Instead, it's suspected that the crab is an escapee from an illegal shipment or even someone's kitchen table. In regions where it can be commonly found, the terrestrial crab is considered a delicacy, and human are often their sole predators.
According to local reports, the animal will now be spending its New Year's Eve in an enclosure at Honolulu Zoo, where it may live out a long 60-year-life as a new and unexpected resident.
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