Super strength! Armored shells! Huge pincers! There are many ways that animals protect themselves, and having built-in armor is one great trick. Ever been told you’re tough-skinned? Maybe you’ll identify with crabs and other clawed crustaceans in Claws, new at SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium at LEGOLAND® California Resort.
We at The Place love the opportunity to visit SEA LIFE, so we gathered a few friends and met Crystal Kranz, marketing representative, and Bob Burhans, curator at SEA LIFE, for a sneak peek into the mysterious world of Claws.
Inside, you’ll get to know clawed creatures from around the world: Japanese spider crabs, coconut crabs, fiddler crabs, lobsters and prawns in five displays located in the special exhibit gallery at SEA LIFE™ (replacing Octopus Garden).
Which clawed crustaceans will grab your affection? Here are several that impressed me:
Because it is found in depths of up to 2,000 feet, the Japanese spider crab is not an animal most people have ever seen until now. It’s the largest arthropod in the world and can weigh 40 pounds and grow to more than 15 feet across. This crab lives so long, it could be wished “Happy 100th Birthday” from Willard Scott on NBC’s Today Show.
“In the water, you can see the Japanese spider crab can stand up and look natural,”
said Bob Burhans, Head Fish Guy. “But out of the water, the legs would be
very heavy and so the animal cannot support itself.”
Insider’s Tip #1:
Plan your Claws visit to include a Daily Presentation at 11 am. SEA LIFE educators are on hand to share fun facts about the animals in Claws and answer your questions.
Known for its ability to crack open coconuts, the Coconut Crab possesses super strength (the last time I tried to open a coconut, it took forever with several tools and made a mess). This is the largest land crab in the world! Like an extreme weight lifter, the coconut crab can lift objects weighing more than 60 pounds.
“They get their name from the ability to climb a coconut tree, get a coconut,
knock it off, and go down and open it,” said Burhans.
Insider’s Tip #2:
Aquarium photography is best when using no flash (bounces off the glass). Be extra careful with seahorses, octopuses, and jellies which are sensitive to bright lights.
Interactive exhibits make learning about these alien-like animals more fun. There are touch displays that let you feel the shell textures of different crabs. We operated a mechanical claw that simulates how clawed critters grab.
The American (or Maine) lobster can weigh up to 17 pounds and live to 35 years. I’ve never seen a lobster’s underbelly, but now you can. There's a bubble viewing window you can duck into to see this lobster’s intricate details. The larger claw is for crushing and the smaller claw handles prey.
“You can see by the size of his left claw that he’s right-handed,” said Burhans.
”He manipulates food with that right claw.”
Insider’s Tip #3:
Did you know? Our local California spiny lobster lacks pincers!
Many of us only see cooked shrimp, so enjoy a rare glimpse into the delicate, wavering antennae world of nephrops, commonly called prawns. Younger children always seem to adore fiddler crabs, identifying with some of the smaller scurrying crabs on display. See if you can spot a male fiddler crab tapping its claw to woo a female crab!
nephrops, commonly called prawns
Go deeper and add to your SEA LIFE experience. We recommend the One Day Resort Hopper, which includes admission to LEGOLAND California, SEA LIFE Aquarium, and LEGOLAND Water Park.
SEA LIFE™ Carlsbad Aquarium at LEGOLAND® California Resort features more than 4,000 ocean animals, including sharks, rays, tide-pool inhabitants, and seahorses. The park is located at One Legoland Drive in Carlsbad. For more information, call 760-918-5346 or visit sealifeus.com.