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Edible Crab (Cancer pagorus)

Karl Midlane (May)

Easily recognised by their black tipped pincers and the 'pie crust' edge to their shell, they are not the commonest crab around the UK coast and you are perhaps more likely to see them on the menu than on the beach.
Mostly feeding on molluscs they often dig in the mud to find food, and when frightened they tuck their legs under their body for protection or scuttle away sideways.
The female is only receptive to mating when she has shed her exoskeleton (shell) which they have to do regularly to grow as a hard shell will not stretch live our skin does. When male find the female of their dreams they will hang on to them until she is ready to shed her shell and have even been known to help with the undressing, but they don't hang about for long after the event, leaving the female carry up to two million eggs before they hatch seven or eight months later.
The young then spend the next thirty days floating about as one of the many types of plankton until the few that survive are large enough to settle to the sea bed, living for up to twenty years and moving from the beaches and shallow water in to increasingly deep water as they grow larger (up to 28cm wide) thereby reducing the competition for food with their own young by foraging in different zones.

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