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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeIngi's LensI’m glad I spotted this one at Gjógv

I’m glad I spotted this one at Gjógv

I caugt this beautiful and quite big brown crab the other day at the Gorge of Gjógv. I’ve got mixed feelings about this whole story. A few years ago there used to be quite a few of these unsusually large and colorful brown crabs at this location. That is, until one day when some foreign tourists were spotted catching a tub full of these large crabs—and after that, predictably, the crabs were gone. I couldn’t see any of them for years, no matter huch much I tried. And believe me, I do quite a lot of scuba diving and the Gorge of Gjógv is one of my favorite spots.

So I was pleased to see this large guy turning up after a couple of years with no large brown crabs in sight. Of course brown crabs are commonly found around the Faroes; however, these large ones are rare and I’ve only spotted them at the Gorge of Gjógv. In my opinion, there should at least be some signage at Gjógv telling visitors to take nothing with them except photos and memories, unless they’re on a guided tour that specifically includes fishing. Actually the Gorge of Gjógv should be a mini marine protected area.

Cancer pagurus, commonly known as the brown crab or edible crab, is found in the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, and reportedly also in the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Black Sea. It’s a robust crab of a reddish-brown colour, having an oval carapace with a characteristic ‘pie crust’ edge and black tips to the claws. A large mature adult can have a carapace width up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) and weigh up to 3 kilograms (6.5 lbs). The brown crab is a nocturnal predator, targeting a range of molluscs and crustaceans. It is the subject of the largest crab fishery in Western Europe, centered on the coasts of the British Isles, with more than 60,000 tonnes caught annually.

The brown crab is abundant throughout the northeast Atlantic as far as Norway in the north and North Africa in the south, on mixed coarse grounds, mud, and sand from the shallow sublittoral to depths around 100 meters (300 feet). The crab is frequently found inhabiting cracks and holes in rocks, but occasionally also in open areas. Smaller specimens are found under rocks in the littoral zone. 

Adults of the brown crab are nocturnal, hiding buried in the substrate during the day, but foraging at night up to 50 meters away from their hideouts. Their diet includes a variety of crustaceans including the crabs Carcinus maenas and Pilumnus hirtellus, the porcelain crabs Porcellana platycheles and Pisidia longicornis, and the squat lobster Galathea squamifera, as well as molluscs including the gastropods Nucella lapillus and Littorina littorea, and the bivalves Ensis, Mytilus edulis, Cerastoderma edule, Ostrea edulis, and Lutraria lutraria. 

The main predator of the brown crab is the octopus, which are even known to attack the crabs inside the pots used by fishermen to trap them.

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