Friday, 31 October 2008 3:04 AM

Giant Coconut Crab Discovered in Pohnpei

A coconut crab discovered in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is the largest in Pohnpei's history.

According to the Kaselehlie Press, workers cleaning the land below an unfinished hotel in Nett last week made the discovery. The owner of the Rusty Anchor bar that operates in the building, Marie Olter, saved the crab from being someone's dinner and notified the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP).

According to the report by the Kaselehlie Press, Eugene Joseph, who was sent by the CSP said that the crustacean "was fighting us all the way so we couldn't really spread it out for measurement. As best I could tell it had a two and a half foot leg span but it was probably bigger."

'He said that the world record leg span for a coconut crab was long ago set at three feet' and 'he was absolutely certain that Tuesday's discovery is the biggest coconut crab found in Pohnpei's recorded history'. He also estimated the crustacean to be 20 to 30 years old.

'For now it is living inside an old construction tool box where a comfortable and familiar environment has been arranged for it. The floor is covered in sand, coral, and rocks. There is a large clam shell behind which the crab can hide so that it can sleep, which it does for most of the day. There is water to drink and plenty of coconuts, its favorite food'.

'There has been talk of searching for the crab's mate before it is released to the land where it was found. Olter said that she is hesitant to do that because so many people know about the crab and the land on which it was found. She doesn't want people hunting for it. Her earliest plan involved the possibility of transporting the crab to And atoll but that idea was quickly dismissed because Pohnpei mainland fishermen often visit the island to fish. When they are not fishing they scour the land for crabs for the market. The monster crab would make a valuable prize at the Pohnpei markets'.

The report further adds that 'Olter said that she and her husband are trying to take quick action' and that 'while they leave the toolbox's top open during the day when the bar is closed, it's not the way the crab is used to living'.

'The couple wants to secretly release the crab somewhere within Pohnpei that no one knows about and 'may yet keep the crustacean as a pet if they think that will help to save its life', saying that "That crab has lived a long time. It deserves to live!"