BUSTER, a three-year-old giant one metre long Coconut Crab has caused a stir amongst the marine biologist community by becoming the first of his kind to moult his shell in any of the SEA LIFE attractions worldwide.
Originally from Christmas Island and now residing at SEA LIFE, these rare crustaceans take 12 hours to shed their old shells, leaving them completely intact once the process has finished. The shedding is such a rarity in captivity, that SEA LIFE staff are overwhelmed and delighted to be part of the experience.
After shedding, the crabs then eat their old shells to help their new ones grow stronger. It takes at least a week for their new shells to harden, during which time they burrow into the sand to avoid predators.
To simulate this, SEA LIFE Blackpool has made Buster a similar home where he can feel safe and secure until his new shell is ready and he can return to the spotlight for guests to see.
Senior Aquarist Martin Sutcliffe stayed all night to watch over Buster whilst he shed his shell, to be on hand if he needed any assistance: “No one else in any other SEA LIFE has seen a Coconut Crab moult so it was really special to see.
“Coconut Crabs grow every time they shed their shells and he’s already noticeably bigger. If he keeps moulting he could take the crown as the largest land crab in captivity.”