Velvet Swimming Crab

Fire-eyed crustacean needs an ASBO for behaviour

Author: Pat
20th February 2012

The aggressive, fire-eyed Velvet Swimming Crab would like to tear you in half. Lucky then it’s only the size of a cheeseburger.

If you could shrink yourself down like one of The Borrowers and look up at the Velvet Swimming Crab, frankly the view would be terrifying. Necora puber, to give it its Latin name, is a battle-hardened looking animal with 8-10 small teeth between its eyes and a large pair of strike-ready pincers.

Also striking about the Velvet Swimming Crab are its bright red eyes themselves, an unusual flash of furious rouge in a neutrally coloured ocean.

If being bleary-eyed is linked to behaviour then this crab has a permanent hangover. Pass one on a drift or provoke one on the shallow seabed somewhere and the typical response is aggression: the Velvet Swimmer has a strong pair of front pincers and isn’t afraid to wield them. Luckily it grows only to a maximum of about 80mm.

The carapace is covered in fine hairs and the back legs are flat, paddle-like, making it a strong swimmer. If you see one on top of another, you’ve found a mating pair.


  • Found around the UK west and south coasts, and in the east up to the North Sea
  • They reside in shallow water and down to about 10 metres.


Unlikely to do harm, but will have a go nonetheless.

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