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Image: Bo Floyd

Imagine you are lying in a hammock on the beach, relaxing and enjoying a spot of fresh air, when suddenly a ten-legged beast, measuring about three feet across, starts slowly climbing up the palm tree in front of you, or, worse, drops down right next to you. It’d almost be enough to make you drop your piña colada with horror and run for cover. The coconut crab, the largest crab on land, and indeed world’s largest land-based arthropod, can have that effect on people.


Image: Angelo O’Connor Villagomez

Coconut crabs, also known as robber crabs or palm thieves, might be large – the length of their bodies alone can extend upwards of a foot – but sadly their numbers are not. These huge creatures were once quite plentiful, but thanks to human appetites for crabmeat, they are now on the IUCN Red List as Data Deficient, meaning we don’t know exactly how many are left but that the numbers are most likely low.

Here, we’d like to share some amazing pictures and a few equally amazing facts about these unusual crabs, all of which demonstrates that they’re definitely a species worth preserving.

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Image: Angelo O’Connor Villagomez

This photograph should give you some idea of just how big these crabs really are. As you can see, these are two impressively sized critters! The man holding them is obviously either very brave or familiar enough with coconut crabs to know how to handle them. As mentioned earlier, these crabs can grow up to a foot in length, sometimes more, but it is not only their body size that is arresting – just look at those claws!

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