It’s that time of year again when Spanner Crabbing will be closed from midnight November 20 until midnight December 20th, 2016. We thought it appropriate to tell you a little about Spanner Crabs that may interest you.
The purpose for the closure is to protect the spanner crabs during their breeding season when they are most vulnerable. The closure gives the crabs a chance to spawn and helps replenish crab stocks. Spanner Crabs are also known as the Frog Crab or Red Frog Crab. The first/front legs are “spanner” shaped and the rest are flattened and have numerous short bristles. The spanner crab’s body colour varies from orange to red. Spanner Crabs prefer bare sandy areas. They remain completely buried in the sand for most of the day, but they emerge rapidly when food appears. Sharks and turtles feed on spanner crabs. Both often take advantage of crabs being caught in nets. Spanner Crabs are found around most of the Australian coast from NSW north to southern WA. On the East coast of Australia spanner crabs don’t seem to like to go much further south than Coffs Harbour, and they don’t go much further north than 1770, so typically the main area’s are in pristine unpolluted waters from the top end of Fraser Island to Mooloolaba. They are caught commercially, mainly using dillies, but also as a by-catch of Prawn trawling, off southern Queensland and northern NSW. Mooloolaba currently exports Spanner Crab to Japan, China, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.
A crab’s growth isn’t continuous, but from a series of moults that happen when it reaches the size of its current shell. Moulting is triggered by hormones. A new ‘cuticle’ (hard protective layer) is secreted under the old shell. The crab rapidly absorbs water, splitting its shell along suture lines, then backs out of the old shell. Substances stored within the crab’s body are rapidly redeposited to harden the new cuticle into a larger shell. The fluid in the body is replaced with meat during a period when the crab feeds voraciously.
Amazing how nature works! We hope the crabs spawn well and we get a good season next year.
The Sunshine Coast Food Trail was launched by famed Sunshine Coast chef, Peter Kuruvita, at an event at Mooloolaba’s Rockliff Seafoods recently. There local spanner crabs are featured on Peter’s new SBS TV program ‘Coastal Kitchen’. Visit Sunshine Coast have a new interactive website, which we are part of, that enables visitors to create their own personalised food trail taking in the region’s best producers, markets, restaurants, cooking schools, events, wineries and brewers.