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Coconut Crab
These rare crabs are as interesting as they are large. Learn about their habits and how you are helping provide critical habitat for them!

With a leg span of over 3 feet, a weight of up to 10 pounds, and a life expectancy of more than 30 years, the Coconut Crab (or “robber crab”) is the kind of creature myths are based off of. These spectacular crabs are the largest land-living anthropod in the world. They earn their name by climbing palm trees, clipping off the coconuts, returning to the ground to husk them, and then either hammering them open, carrying them back up the tree and dropping them on rocks, or cutting a hole  the shell with their claw. Once open, the crabs climb back up the tree to dine on the tasty coconut flesh.  

Coconut Crabs live alone in burrows and crevices on islands in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. They spend their days hidden in their burrows to protect themselves from predators and reduce water loss from heat. While resting on bedding made from the strong fibers of the coconut husk, the Coconut Crab will use its large claw to close the burrow entrance, creating a moist climate ideal for its breathing organs. These land loving crabs are one of the most terrestrial of crustaceans. In fact, they will drown in sea water in less than a day.

The crab is currently listed as “data deficient” on the IUCN Red List, meaning that the status is in current need of an assessment. However, there is strong evidence that the Coconut Crab population continues to decline or become extinct in several areas due to loss of breeding habitat and human predation. Island Conservation is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy to provide safe habitat for the Coconut Crab on Palmyra Atoll by removing invasive rats. 

Learn more about the species that will benefit from the restoration of Palmyra Atoll


Island Conservation Restoration Specialists Maddy Pott and Aurora Alifano come across a Coconut Crab on Palmyra Atoll.

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