An Easy Guide to Eco-Crabbing

Crab on the beach © Adam Cormack

Crabbing is a great way to learn about our marine life, but isn't always fun for the crabs themselves! Next time you go, follow these simple steps to show you care for our crustaceans.

Catching the crabs

  1. Steer clear of hooks and end your crabbing line with a net instead. This makes it less likely you'll accidentally snare another animal!
     
  2. Bring your own bait instead of using things from the shore. Crabs have a great sense of smell, so the stinkier your bait the better - try bacon rind or tinned sardines.
     
  3. Be gentle with your catch - crabs are pretty tough, but being pulled in roughly or dropped could crack their shells and hurt their limbs.
     
  4. Keep your fingers out of nipping distance - hold the crabs by the edges of their shells, keeping your hand behind and above their bodies.
     
  5. Make sure the crabs aren't out of water for more than one minute. Crabs have gills, like fish, so they need to be in a damp place to breathe.

Caring for the crabs

  1. Choose a bucket that gives the crabs enough space - they should be able to sit flat on the bottom without touching each other. If your bucket is small then only keep one crab in it at once.
     
  2. Fill your bucket with plenty of fresh seawater. Change the water every 10 minutes so that it contains enough oxygen for the crabs to breathe.
     
  3. Upgrade your bucket with pieces of seaweed - this will help the crabs feel at home and give them extra shelter from the sun.
     
  4. Put your bucket in a shady spot, as crabs can overheat in direct sunlight. If there's no shade around, keep the crabs in your bucket for less time and change the water more often.
     
  5. Check the crabs are all getting along - if you see a pair fighting, gently separate them and put one back in the sea.

 

Leave only footprints

One of the most important parts of crabbing is leaving our shores in top shape. Carefully put the crabs, and anything else you moved, back where you found them. Take your belongings, including any rubbish, away with you. Then get busy planning your next crabbing adventure!