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Weird from Oregon Coast Archives: When They Found a Mutant Crab

Published 04/07/2020 at 3:24 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Weird from Oregon Coast Archives: Mutant Crab Found in 2012

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(Seaside, Oregon) –With the Oregon coast shut down to visitors, it seems a like a good time to revisit some fun and unusual moments in the Oregon Coast Beach Connection archives. This one happened in October of 2012. (All photos Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

It all started on October 18 of that year, when a local resident was crabbing off the 12th Ave. bridge and caught something really weird. It was a crab with three pinchers on one of its arms – a kind of mutant crab no one at the Seaside Aquarium had ever seen.

He donated it to the aquarium and by early November it was on display to the public.

Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe said it was an exceptional rarity, a kind of deformity that probably happened early the crab’s development. The extra pincher was not functional, which told her the crab was likely not born with that.

“As part of their growth process, crabs actually shed their old shells as they grow new ones,” Boothe said. “This process is called molting. Sometimes a crab is injured while molting. This can cause strange deformities in the crab’s shell, such as in this crab.”

If the crab was born with it, the pincher would be under its control, Boothe said. But it is not a functional one. This led her to believe the extra pincher happened during an injury.

It was likely a very early injury, however, as Boothe said the pincher is not that much smaller than the others. This means the pincher has had almost as much time to grow as the real, functional appendages.

There is the possibility the crab was injured as early as the larval stage.

Back then in 2011, they put him in a separate tank and not with the other Dungeness crabs.

“He's so special I put him in a tank by himself and away from the others,” Boothe said. “Crabs can get, well, real crabby, and I don't want them to pull his pinchers off.”

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