Video by @JoelSartore | The giant spider crab may look fearsome, but they are rarely-seen scavengers, spending their days on the seafloor eating plant and animal matter. They live in the cold waters of the Pacific and at depths of up to 2,000 feet. Giant spider crabs are the largest crabs in the world, reaching a maximum leg span of 12 ft and weighing up to 45 lbs. As juveniles, these crabs are known to decorate their shells with sponges, kelp or other items as a means of camouflage and protection. Although they are occasionally collected for food in Japan, harvesting of this species is illegal during the spring, allowing them to move to shallower waters to breed. During an annual phenomenon, thousands of giant spider crabs make their way into a giant aggregation to shed their exoskeleton, a process known as molting. Crabs are vulnerable to predation after molting. Doing so in a massive group helps protect them from danger.
Due to their shy behavior and deep habitat, exact population numbers of this species are not known, making it hard for scientists to study or protect them. The @AquariumPacific, where this crab was photographed, houses seven giant spider crabs, including this juvenile. Their exact lifespan is not known, but biologists estimate they live over half a century!
Check out @joelsartore for a portrait of this crab!