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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Rare box crab found by fisherman
The crab is usually found between Morocco and Ireland

A rare crab, usually found in depths of up to 9,840ft (3,000m), has been caught in the nets of a Cornish fisherman.

The giant box crab was brought to the surface by skipper John Walsh as he fished 75 miles (121km) west of Padstow at a depth of just 328ft (100m).

Staff at Blue Reef Aquarium, where the deep-sea crab is on display, believe it is Britain's largest crab species reaching lengths of up to 6ft (2m).

It is thought to be only the seventh recorded specimen in the UK since 1900.

'From another planet'

Few have survived the huge changes in pressure as they are hauled to the surface and a spokeswoman for the aquarium said they fear this crab may not live for long.

But she said at the moment it appears to be in good health and is recovering in a specially chilled tank at the aquarium in Newquay.

The crab, which has a claw span of 120cm, was kept alive on the boat for three days before arriving back at Padstow.

Aquarist Matt Slater said: "It looks like something from another planet and has caused quite a stir among all the staff here.

"It's one of the oddest crabs I've ever seen. It has weird eyes on stalks which look like bicycle handlebars and a strange pair of backwards facing pincers."

The crab has now been formally identified with the help of a local zoologist, Dr Paul Gainey.

Mr Slater said: "Apparently it is normally found very deep on the edge of the continental shelf which runs from Morocco to Ireland at depths of 3,000 metres."

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