Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium has been joined by seven new tiny residents.
The Southsea wildlife attraction successfully reared seven baby spiny spider crabs for the first time.
These crabs are usually very difficult to raise in captivity, but staff at the Blue Reef centre have been delighted with how well their seven newborn crustaceans are developing.
The spiny spider crab is found throughout European waters from the Mediterranean in the south to the English Channel.
They get their name because their long, spindly legs make them look like giant underwater spiders.
Martyn Chandler from Blue Reef Aquarium said: ‘They begin life as minuscule, free swimming larvae and this is the most risky stage in their development.
‘They are so small that it is difficult to get them to feed and they are also vulnerable to predators and other spider crabs.
‘We feed them on day-old artemia until big enough they metamorphose into tiny miniature replicas of the adults.’
During the summer months divers often come across huge mounds of spider crabs in shallow waters with as many as 100 or more individuals congregating in one place, this is part of its natural defence system.
Like decorator crabs, baby spider crabs use seaweed to camouflage themselves from would-be predators as they mature in shallow rockpools.
‘The growth of spider crab fry is extremely quick and they will moult every five to seven days,’ added Mr Chandler.
‘It’s a survival strategy as, in the wild, they are at risk fro predators.
‘It’s a fantastic project and something we will be doing again in the future.’