If a crab and Mr Tickle had a baby, it would look just like Big Daddy. An intimidating crustacean, he was named after a British wrestler of the same name (whose real name, incredibly, was Shirley Crabtree Jr) and holds the record for the widest crustacean in captivity ever.
Measuring 3.11 meters (10.25 feet) claw-to-claw, the Japanese spider crab also took the crown for the longest leg on a crab ever, stretching 1.43 meters (4.85 feet). The leggy crustacean narrowly avoided an early death at a Japanese fish market and instead was scooped up by a Sea Life representative who transported him to a cold-water tank in Blackpool, England.
His long life came to an end in 2016 when he passed at the age of 80, remembered by Displays Curator Scott Blacker as being “more like a member of the family than just an animal in our care,” he told Guinness World Records. “He was clearly a very elderly crab, and it seems he had simply reached the end of his natural lifespan.”
Japanese spider crabs (Macrocheira kaempferi) can live 50 to 100 years, but their legs carry on growing well after their body stops. This is because their body – or carapace, as it’s called for crabs – doesn’t get any larger after they reach adulthood, but those spindly gams just won’t quit.
Their Japanese name, taka-ashi-gani, means “tall legs crab”, and it pretty much hits the nail on the head. While the body usually stops at about 40 centimeters (16 inches) across, their legs can grow to several meters.
Japanese spider crabs are rarely seen in the wild because they spend most of their time in the deep ocean, hanging out around vents. However, springtime is mating time, and they’ll brave the journey to shallower waters in hopes of finding a mate.
It’s a perilous journey, and one that was made far more dangerous by fishers, but a ban has been placed on catching them during mating season in response to a dwindling wild population. Fingers crossed the action taken will allow many more Big Daddies to develop out in the wild.