HONOLULU, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Residents of Honolulu's Salt Lake neighborhood were surprised to find a massive, strange-looking crab crawling along a local boulevard this week. After calling animal control they learned that it was a coconut crab, the world's largest species of terrestrial hermit crab (not to mention the world's largest land-living arthropod) -- the coconut crab.
Though the Hawaiian islands have plenty of coconuts -- the crab is named for its ability to tear open the tropical fruit -- they're not the native habitat of the massive pinching arthropod. The invasive species is considered more than a nuisance; it's dangerous, wildlife officials say.
"There's a threat to our native ecosystem," Trenton Yasui, an invertebrate specialist with Hawaii's Department of Agriculture, told local ABC affiliate KITV4. "The Coconut Crab would definitely would feed on various native birds and turtles potentially, and it also could present a human health hazard for children and also for home pets."
The crab in question only weighed about three pounds and stretched 16 inches across; but the species can weigh up to 10 pounds and measure more than three feet from leg to leg.
The now-captured crab will be a resident at the Honolulu Zoo; and it could be there a while. Coconut crabs can live to the ripe old age of 60 years old.
Once the coconut crab is present, it can get almost anywhere; it's agile enough to climb trees. And while it is potentially disruptive, it is apparently delicious.
"It's actually a delicacy throughout the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands where it's native to," Yasui told Hawaii News Now. "The taste of the meat is a little different because it is a terrestrial crab so they're consuming plants and animals."
It's a taste that comes with a price though, as possession or transport of the illegal invasive species can warrant a hefty fine.