The coconut crab is a large edible land crab related to the hermit crab, and are found in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. They eat coconuts for a living! How would you like to be on an island and come across a crab that is more than 3 feet from head to tail and weighs up to 40 pounds, with a pair of large pincers strong enough to open coconuts! They can climb trees too, but they only eat coconuts that have already fallen to the ground. Coconut crab meat has been considered a local delicacy.
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To those who want me to remove this entry from the website, I do not feel that is appropriate. If the species were endangered, I would add that information, leaving the entry on the website. Denying the existence of the above facts and trying to hide the existence of the Coconut Crab by censoring all information about it would not help to save the species. No one would know of their existence, other than those who lived on islands with them.
Suggested reading for those who want NO information about the coconut crab on this website: ‘1984’ by George Orwell.
The coconut crab is not endangered at this time - it IS listed as DD (Data Deficient) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Website www.redlist.org
DATA DEFICIENT (DD) A taxon is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status. A taxon in this category may be well studied, and its biology well known, but appropriate data on abundance and/or distribution is lacking. Data Deficient is therefore not a category of threat or Lower Risk. Listing of taxa in this category indicates that more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate. It is important to make positive use of whatever data are available. In many cases great care should be exercised in choosing between DD and threatened status. If the range of a taxon is suspected to be relatively circumscribed, if a considerable period of time has elapsed since the last record of the taxon, threatened status may well be justified. (from the www.redlist.org website)
Here are 2 emails from people who have had very different first hand experiences -
2/8/2003 Dear Mr. Ehler,
I was searching your site for some food facts and I noticed that you had coconut crabs listed on your site. So, I went to look at what you had to say about it. I noticed that you must have had quite a few complaints about having the crab listed as a food. I think this is hilarious. I am from the Pacific Islands, Guam actually, and if the people who complained to you had ever been there, they would have not said anything. There are a TON of coconut crabs there. On one particular beach there are so many I get kind of scared. Like you said, they are quite large and intimidating.
I for one am very glad that you have coconut crabs on your site because most people do not know that a coconut crab is not a crab covered with shredded coconut. Coconut crab is one of the most wonderful things I have ever eaten and people should know about it. So, Thank You!!
Thanks for providing a site where people can learn about different foods!
1/15/2004 I may be beating a dead horse here, but I've been looking some info up, and most people have the opinion that though not listed as threatened, it more than likely should be placed on that status. They are not prolific reproducers, and I have been to some of the islands that the Coconut Crab is found, and there are NOT very many of them. On those islands I visited they were protected under local laws, due to them being so rare. I also hardly doubt on a heavily populated island like Guam where the wildlife is under extreme pressures of humans. There would be many of these crabs. I think Danielle Sumrall (you posted this persons email in regard to the crab) is gravely mistaken and is confusing the coconut crab probably with some other more common crab. I also know some professional divers who visit numerous islands that the coconut crab is found and they would agree that it is in no way shape or form commonly found.
Christopher Zarnick U.S.A.F.