Crabs etc


My kids have found crawfish/crayfish (amerika-zarigani), but I hadn’t caught any before, so I decided to try my luck today. I went to a stream near Hyoutan Pond (2km from home: map here) and turned over a likely looking piece of old tile… Underneath was a huge crawfish!! With outstretched claws it was around 15cm long. I handled it pretty carefully to avoid being pinched!

According to the kids’ nature book, this species of crawfish is originally from North America and it was introduced into Japan in 1927. Only 20 individuals were brought over from America to use as bait for edible bullfrogs, but by 1960 the species had spread as far as Kyushu. It is now common throughout most of Japan (except Hokkaido) and can be a pest (burrowing in rice fields). In Louisiana, this crawfish is farmed for food and is popular in Cajun cooking.

streamstreamred swamp crawfishred swamp crawfishred swamp crawfishred swamp crawfishred swamp crawfish

Subphylum: Crustacea; Order: Decapoda; Family: Cambaridae
Procambarus clarkii = amerika-zarigani
= Red swamp crawfish (crayfish)
= Louisiana crawfish (crayfish)

Location: Hyoutan-ike (Hyoutan Pond)
- Map (image)
- Link to Google Map

We went to a restaurant near the sea last night and, when we came out, we saw several red-clawed crabs (akate-gani ) scavenging in the garbage area of the restaurant. The kids wanted to see them up close so I chased around for about 20 minutes and managed to catch a couple of them. We took these home and took some photographs this morning, then released them on the beach.

Chiromantes haematocheirChiromantes haematocheir

Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae
Chiromantes haematocheir = akate-gani (Red-clawed crab)

We took a group of kids out to Ohshima Island, which is a 30-minute boat trip from our nearest port. Everyone was playing in the shallow sea and on the beach when one of the kids called me over because she had found a hermit crab (yadokari). She said it was a big one, but I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. The thing was enormous. I didn’t even know hermit crabs grew that big. In fact, we don’t often see shells that size, so this crab must have drifted from someplace else (in a storm maybe). Anyway, the Japanese people in our group wanted to eat it (typical!!), but I waded out into the sea and released it in what looked like a suitable location. I hope that it survives and gets even bigger!

Ohshima IslandOhshima Islandgiant hermit crabgiant hermit crab