Asian paddle crab

Asian Paddle Crab <i>(Charybdis japonica)</i>
Asian Paddle Crab (Charybdis japonica)
Brown Asian Paddle Crab. Source: New Zealand Museum
Brown Asian Paddle Crab. Source: New Zealand Museum
Pale Asian Paddle Crab. Source: Western Australian Museum
Pale Asian Paddle Crab. Source: Western Australian Museum
Grey/ Purple Asian Paddle Crab
Grey/ Purple Asian Paddle Crab
Asian paddle crab identification diagram
Asian paddle crab identification diagram

The Asian Paddle Crab is an aggressive, non-native crab species. It is not currently established in Australia but has significant potential to do so.

The Asian Paddle Crab:

  • competes for food and shelter with native crustacean species
  • can carry disease which can impact native species such as lobster, prawn and crabs
  • spread via biofouling on shipping.

In 2019, there were two confirmed detections of Asian Paddle Crab in South Australian waters, one in Gulf St Vincent and the other in the Port River. Members of the public are urged to report any sightings or catches of this species to PIRSA immediately. Do not return it to the water – take a photo, keep it in a bucket of seawater and contact PIRSA Fishwatch immediately.

What to look for:

  • can grow up to 120 mm wide, which is smaller than the Blue Swimmer Crab
  • found in a number of colours – pale, olive green, brown, purple
  • sharp spines between its eyes
  • six spines down each side of the shell
  • both males and females have paddles on the rear legs, if it doesn’t have paddles it’s not an Asian Paddle Crab.

Considered an exotic species under the Fisheries Management Act 2007, the Asian Paddle Crab may not be deposited, released or allowed to escape into any waters in South Australia.

For more information on how to distinguish from native species please view the Asian Paddle Crab Factsheet (PDF 1.5 MB)

Page Last Reviewed: 04 Sep 2019
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