Crab and Lobster on Anglesey

Anglesey is one of the most abundant marine life areas in Britain, its cool clean waters provide the natural habitat for some of the wonderful Lobster, Crab and Crustaceans that grace our waters. We have the most diverse marine life, you’ll find anywhere in the UK. In this blog I’m going to explore the topic of the crab, lobster and crustacenas that inhabit our watery world here on Anglesey.

I have been studying the underwater space of our shores for 35 years and it doesn’t get old at all, finding crab, lobster, shrimp and more, is a as fun for me as it was, when I was a little one. Foraging trips for me still have the same excitement today as they did many moons ago.

Anglesey is abundant with amazing sea wild life on every corner and the summer months are its best show case. Grab a brew, ill run you through what to expect to find, rock-pooling, beach combing and foraging on our foreshores.  Note * I’m a marine geologist not a marine biologist, so this is slightly out of my zone, but from personal experience, not academic, I have a good base level of knowledge!

 

Lets jump right in

So these are some of the amazing Lobster, Crab and crustaceans lurking in the deeps here..

 

1.Common Lobster

Among the crabs and lobsters of the North Wales coast the Common Lobster is more obvious to the everyday person. Lobsters are found in crevices holes among rocks. Normally, they come out during night in search of prey. Lobsters grow up to a length of 50 cm and live up to 15 years, although they have been found to live to 70+ on some rare cases. Lobsters are found on welsh coasts throughout the year.

How to identify?

Common Lobsters are deep blue in color and they have two long red antennae. Lobster has a long body with two large pincers. Out of the two pincers the chunkier one is used as crusher and the thinner one is used for tearing.

 

Lobsters and Crabs of Anglesey
Lobster-dreamstime.com

 

 

2. Porcelain Crab

The Porcelain Crab is found on all UK costs and are hard to spot. They live under rocks and boulders and feed on plankton from the water using the special hairs on the mouthparts. Porcelain Crab is very fragile and when attacked it will shed a leg.

How to identify?

This is a tiny crab with hairy body. The front claws are broad and flattened. It has two long antennae. This crab is greenish brown on the back and off-white underneath.

Lobster and crabs of Anglesey
Porcaline Crab – Image by Fungalpunknature.co.uk

 

3. Hermit Crab

Hermit Crabs are found on all UK coasts from January to December. They normally live inside the empty shells of Sea Snails such as periwinkles and whelks. As they grow, they migrate in to larger shells. Hermit crabs feed on anything they find. They keep their soft body coiled up inside the shell. When two crabs meet, they fight and the one that defeats the other will forcibly occupy the shell.

How to identify?

Among the several species of Hermit crabs, the Common Hermit Crab is the largest in size. The body is reddish brown and the right hand pincer is larger than the other one. Normally, they are found in periwinkle or whelk shells.

 

hermit- phys.org
Hermit Crab- image by phys.org

 

 

4. Great Spider Crab

Among the various species of Crabs and lobsters of the north wales coast the Great Spider Crab is very much different from other crabs. This crab is also known as Sea Toad. Great Spider Crabs live in between rocks and seaweed from the low tide mark. They are found on northern UK costs throughout the year. They grow up to 8 cm wide and 10 cm long. These crabs feed on jelly fish.

How to identify?

Great Spider Crab is orange-brown in color with long spindly legs similar to that of spider. The pear-shaped shell is quite distinctive. This species is smaller than the Spiny Spider Cab.

Spider Crab - image by rnz.co.nz
Spider Crab – image by rnz.co.nz

 

5. Edible Crab

The large size Edible Crab is found on all UK shores throughout the year. It’s body will be 10 – 20 cm wide. They live on lower shore as well as about 100m deep under sea. Normally, these crabs hide under boulders. Edible Crabs are active predators. They feed on mussels, whelks and smaller cabs. They also dig for prey.

How to identify?

Edible Crab is orange brown in color. They have black-tipped pincers. Their shells have pie-crust edge. The shells are thick and oval-shaped.

 

Lobster and Crab of Anglesey
Edible Crab- marlin.ac.uk

 

 

6. Velvet Swimming Crab

Among the Crabs and lobsters of the North Wales coast the Velvet Swimming Crab is the most active and strong species and they can give highly painful nip. Velvet Swimming Crabs are found on all UK costs from January to December. These crabs are of medium size and the short hairs that cover their body make the velvet appearance. This species is also known as “Devil Crab”.

How to identify?

Velvet Swimming Crab has distinctive red eyes. They have velvet appearance because of the short hairs that cover their body. There are blue lines on their legs and the claws are with bluish tips.

Lobster and Crab of Anglesey
Velvert Swimming Crab -Image by Chartmouth.org

 

7. Brown Shrimp

Brown Shrimps live on the seabed and they are found around the UK coasts throughout the year. They grow up to a length of 8cm. Brown Shrimps are very common estuaries around north Wales. They are in mottled brown color. In order to escape from predators they bury themselves in the sand. They can change their color to match the surroundings.

How to identify?

Brown Shrimp has translucent body in mottled brown color and its antennae is as long as its body.

Brown Shrimp - Image by youtube.com
Brown Shrimp – Image by youtube.com

 

 

8. Spiny Spider Crab

Spiny Spider Crab grows up to 20 cm in length. They are found throughout the year on west coasts of  Wales. This species is also known as European Spider. Spiny Spider Crabs feed on seaweed, mussels, starfish, etc. In Autumn they migrate into deeper waters and in total travel more than 100+ miles.

How to identify?

These are large sized crabs in orange color and they have spindly legs like spiders. Their oval, spiky shell is often covered by algae and as a result they have green hairy appearance most of the time.

 

Spiny spider crab - image : glaucus.org.uk
Spiny spider crab – image : glaucus.org.uk

 

 

9. Common Prawn

The Common Prawn grows up to a length of 11cm. They are found on rocky shores around UK shores throughout the year. They hide in crevices or under stones. They are scavengers and will eat anything they find including decaying seaweed and dead mussels. The female prawns carry up to 4000 fertilized eggs around their legs.

How to identify?

They are large shrimps with translucent body. There will be brownish-red tiger stripes along the body. Large eyes are separated by a serrated rostrum. They have long brown antennae. Walking legs have brown and yellow bands.

Common Prawn- image wikipedia
Common Prawn- image wikipedia

 

 

10. Green Shore Crab

Shore Crab is very common around all UK coasts and are found from January to December. Maximum width of the shell will be 9cm. They feed on anything they find like seaweed, mussels, barnacles and smaller crabs. Female crabs carry fertilized eggs with them.

How to identify?

Normally they are of greenish color, but some of them are orange or red in color. These crabs are medium sized and are identified with the spikes pattern on its shell. It has five upturned spikes on each side and there are three rounded lobes between its eyes. The different colors indicate its age.

Green Shore Crab- brisitsh sea fishing.co.uk
Green Shore Crab- brisitsh sea fishing.co.uk

 

11. Spiny Lobster

Spiny Lobster is a crustacean and is also known as Crawfish or Crayfish. They grow up to 60cm by length. Spiny Lobsters are found throughout the year around south west of England and Wales and also along West Coast of Scotland. During breeding season they create a “creak” noise by rubbing their antennae together in order to attract the mate. They live in crevices and caves in shallow waters. They come out during night in search of food, Spiny Lobsters are scavengers and feed on crabs, worms, starfish and any other dead creatures.

How to identify?

Spiny Lobster is of orange-brown color with long antennae. The body is covered by spines but with no big claws as Common Lobster.

crayfish- bristolzoo.org.uk
Spiny Lobster, Crayfish- image bristolzoo.org.uk

 

 

12. Bristly Crab

Bristly Crab is of very small size and grows up to 3cm across. They are found around south and west of British Isles. It is a hairy crab. Like other types of crabs, Bristly Crab also has eight legs and two claws. This crab feeds on dead, rotten marine matter.

How to identify?

The body and legs of Bristly Crab are reddish-brown in color and covered by hairy structures. This crab has 8 legs and 2 claws. One claw is larger than the other.

 

Bristly Crab- Image : malin.ac.uk
Bristly Crab- Image : malin.ac.uk

 

 

13.  Masked Crab

 Masked Crab is found around south and west of the British Isles. It is a small species and the carapace measures 2 – 3cms. This crab lives on muddy seabed and buries itself into the mud. When buried the antennae will be poking out. They feed on marine worms and other small creatures.

 

How to identify?

This small-sized crab is reddish-brown in color with a long antennae. It buries itself into the mud and pokes the antennae out of the mud.

Masked Crab- Image : flick.com
Masked Crab- Image : flick.com

 

14. Broad Clawed Porcelain Crab

 

This crab species is found throughout the year around most of the British Isles. Across the carapace this species measures 15 – 18mm. It is less hairy in appearance. This crab hides under rocks and boulders.

How to identify?

The Broad Clawed Porcelain Crab is of green to grey color and is identified by the broad claws and very long antennae.

Broad Clawed Porcelain Crab- the rockpoolproject.co.uk
Broad Clawed Porcelain Crab- the rockpoolproject.co.uk

 

15. Spiny Squat Lobster

 Among different types of squat lobsters Spiny Squat Lobster is the largest in size. It is found in UK waters and also throughout Europe.

How to identify?

 The small spines cover the claws and legs. This species of crab is easily identified by the blue streaks along its carapace.

Spiny Squat Lobster- britishseafishing.co.uk
Spiny Squat Lobster- britishseafishing.co.uk

 

16.  Long-clawed Porcelain Crab 

This is a very small species and hides under rocks. This species of porcelain crab lives in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean. This crab has a maximum length of 10mm across the carapace. These crabs are found all around Britain and Ireland.

How to identify?

The carapace of this crab species is sub-oval in shape. Its chelae is long and cylindrical. It has 3 pairs of walking legs.

Long-clawed Porcelain Crab -glacus.org.uk
Long-clawed Porcelain Crab -glacus.org.uk

 

Crab and lobster in north Wales are abundant are form part of our natural food chain and ecosystem. Our healthy and abundant waters here, mean that there are lots of varieties of crustaceans as you can see from the above listing.  The number of species should give you a good idea as to how rich our waters are here.

 

 

Some questions that I get on my blog on the topic  :

 

Sea food restaurants north Wales 

Seafood restaurants in north Wales
Seafood restaurants in north Wales – click image to go to map

 

Bye laws / collecting crab and lobster in north Wales.

You firstly need a licence to fish for lobster and crab. Get them here.

You are allowed 1 lobster per person per day

You are allowed 3  pots per person, as a non commercial licence.

Size limits for crab and lobster are found here  – you CAN NOT take crab or lobster if they have eggs on.

You will need a measuring gauge to see if they are in size.

If you find a V-notch In the tail of a lobster – its a breeding female and it must be returned – failure to do so will mean a fine.

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 14.46.28
Crab and Lobster size limits – image : ifca.gov.uk/minimum-landing-sizes/

 

 

Fish mongers in north Wales 

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 14.57.56
Fishmongers in north Wales – click on the image to get the map

 

My  favours Street food / seafood on Anglesey 

“Hooked “ is a new and up and coming place in Rhosneigr, really like it there, great guy who runs is CJ too.

Im hearing great things about the “Mon Dressed Crab” too in Benllech.

 

Forging for crab and lobster on Anglesey.

Ah this is more of an interesting question I get.. Ok if you go on extreme low waters to beaches and rocky coves you can over turn rocks and you will find edible crabs. Look into big cracks in the rocks and boulders. lift up seaweed and leave a lobster pot at a low water mark over night, come back in the morning for it. For Lobster foraging, (and I have not done too much of this) You will need a hook on a broom handle to lift get into deep rock crevices, right at the lower marks on extreme low tides, think spring and atom equinox.

 

Lobster Pots – what they look like

 

Lobsterpot - image by Coastalnets.co.uk
Lobsterpot – image by Coastalnets.co.uk

Crab pots – what they look like

 

Crab pots - image by Coastalnets.co.uk
Crab pots – image by Coastalnets.co.uk

 

Rare lobsters sometimes found on Anglesey 

Some times a trawler will find either a huge lobster or a rare coloured one, examples are shown below- they often get taken to the sea zoo and live out their vintage years

Two tone lobsters- again very rare
Two tone lobsters- again very rare

 

Huge lobster saved by aquarium
Huge lobster saved by aquarium -70/80 years old!

 

Good places for crabbing on Anglesey 

Ah how many amazing days were spent crabbing as a child ? Oh my word it was double heaven.  Top crabbing spots on Anglesey and (just off) include :

 

Holyhead Breakwater

Makenzie pier Holyhead

The slipways of holyhead harbour

Amlwch port breakwater

Flagpole Trearddur Bay

Beaumaris pier

Bangor pier

 

Marine aquariums on Anglesey 

Seazoo all the way! its the best place on earth to me ! The season is in Bryncencyn on the means strait, I have been going since I was under 10 year old, wonderful place to go as a child and learn about marine life. I would have lived in the here had my mother given me a chance.

 

Top spots for Rockpool exploring  on Anglesey 

Big deep Rockpool is what your after…Good sports are all over really you have to be in these places at Low water. Look for a rocky foreshore at low water, there big reefs around Rhosneigr are some of the best, with ease if access with the gentle sloping beaches and proximity to main spots to stay in.

Porth trecastell,

Rhosneigr main beach,

Porth daffrach

Porth y post

 

North Welsh Lobster recipe – Lobster Thermidor Cymru 

 

North Welsh  Crab recipes – Welsh crab cakes 

 

See our other blogs on marine life around Anglesey and north Wales :

 

Marine mammals in north Wales ;

Seaweeds of north Wales 

Jelly fish of north Wales 

Sharks off the north Wales coast 

 

Books

 

I’ve complied a list of a load of marine related books to read for you all. Ive not got all of these, but had a the space and time to read them all – I would have most of them for sure!

 

 

Photo by David Clodeon Unsplash

 

Tan Y Tro Nesaf  / Until the next time,

Nick

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