Large coconut crab found in Salt Lake neighborhood

Published: Dec. 23, 2014 at 10:09 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2014 at 10:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are plenty of coconuts and crabs in Hawaii.  But not coconut crabs, which is why it was so unusual to see the crustacean walking around in a Salt Lake neighborhood.

It's called a coconut crab because they're agile enough to climb a coconut tree and strong enough to crack it with its claws.

This coconut crab was found on Saturday in Salt Lake.  It's about three pounds and 16 inches from leg to leg.  They can live 60 years, get three feet wide and nine pounds.  They are among the largest land crab in the world and pose a great risk to Hawaii's ecosystem.

"It could potentially impact anything from sea turtles to ground nesting birds. It's potentially a hazard to little children and small pets," said Trenton Yasui, Acting Invertebrate Aquatic Biota Specialist with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

The last coconut crab found in Hawaii was in 1989.  Someone also tried to mail a box of them into the state in the early 2000's.

They are abundant on the Christmas Island near Australia although it's just coincidence this one showed up so close to the holiday.

It was likely brought in illegally.  People do eat the crab but this one won't be on a dinner table. It was taken to the Honolulu Zoo where it may eventually be on display.

"It's actually a delicacy throughout the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands where it's native to. "The taste of the meat is a little different because it is a terrestrial crab so they're consuming plants and animals," said Yasui.

An emu was also taken to the Honolulu Zoo.  It was brought in illegally about seven months ago.  It's a big bird standing four feet tall.

It was raised as a pet in Hilo, but it also could have introduced dangerous diseases to Hawaii's native birds.  The owner turned it in through the state's amnesty program.

If you have or find an illegal animal call the State Department of Agriculture's pest hotline at 643-PEST.

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