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Rare spotting of toxic 'devil crab' reported in Penghu

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A highly toxic "devil crab" (Zosimus aeneus). Photo courtesy of Fisheries Research Institute's Penghu Marine Biology Research Center

Taipei, April 14 (CNA) A rare sighting of a highly toxic "devil crab" (Zosimus aeneus) was reported recently in a residential area in Penghu, according to the Fisheries Research Institute.

Hsieh Heng-yi (謝恆毅), director of the institute's Penghu Marine Biology Research Center, told CNA Sunday that the crab was spotted Friday night on a street in Longmen Village, Huxi Township on the eastern part of Penghu's main island.

The 10-centimeter crab likely escaped after being caught by fishermen in a bottom gillnet, and was taken by the center for use as a research specimen after it was reported on Friday, Hsieh said.

According to Hsieh, devil crabs are found in tropical waters throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans but are relatively rare in Penghu.

Although less toxic than the more common mosaic reef crab, devil crabs contain significant concentrations of tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin, which do not get denatured by heat even when cooked, he said.

In terms of appearance, devil crab has an oval-shaped and smooth carapace marked with yellow-orange to orange-red patches, Hsieh said.

While the waters around Penghu are home to a large variety of edible crab species, Hsieh urged members of the public to exercise caution, and consider checking with experts at the research center before consuming unidentified crab species that are reddish or especially striking in color.

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