The Queensland Spanner Crab

In the world of crabs, the spanner crab (Ranina ranina) is special.

Spanner crabs move forward and backward as opposed to sideways, and unlike other crabs, the spanner crab is an effective predator spending most of its life buried in the sand, eyes protruding, watching for unsuspecting prey. In fact its spanner-shaped claw is very effective for opening the shells of scallops, oysters, molluscs and other crustaceans.

This predatory diet could be the reason why the spanner crab’s meat is so incredibly sweet, and why the flesh of the spanner crab is never stringy like other crab meat, but soft and irresistibly succulent. Understandably spanner crabs are often compared to lobsters, but we think lobsters are like spanner crabs.

Spanner crabs can be found in sandy coastal regions, predominantly off Australia’s North Eastern coast between Gladstone in Queensland and Ballina in New South Wales and at depths from 20 – 100 metres. They are also found, albeit in much smaller volumes, in Hawaii, where they are known as Kona crabs and in The Philippines where they are known as Curachas.

Another thing both lobsters and spanner crabs share is the colouring of their shells, which can range in colour from a burgundy-orange in raw crabs to bright scarlet red once cooked.

With so many similarities to lobster as well as its unique taste, texture, diet, habitat and appearance, is it any wonder that we think Fraser Isle Spanner Crab is a culinary experience everyone should try?

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