Death on the seashore
The 4th July was one of the lowest tides of the year at Filey and the seashore birds were feasting on around a dozen velvet swimming crabs (Necora puber) that had been left stranded on the beach near Filey Brigg. Body parts littered the beach. Several other crabs had made it to the relative safety of some rocky overhangs where an edible crab and velvet swimmer were waiting things out until the tide returned.
Three butterfish were also exposed . They are eaten by herring gulls. Butterfish (Pholis gunellus) are around 10cm or so long with distinctive black spot markings. Sometimes it is possible to see black spots along the fins. These are flukes (a trematode parasite called Cryptocotyle lingua ). When the butterfish are eaten by gulls the parasite passes into their guts, later into gull droppings infecting small marine snails called periwinkles; the parasite then emerges from the periwinkles and penetrates the butterfish, completing the fluke’s life cycle.
Be Kind to a Crab – Don’t break the law
Filey Brigg has always been a traditional area for local anglers and fishermen to gather bait. This kind of activity is time honoured , the problem is that in recent years, more and more pressure has been put on Filey Brigg’s environment. Professional gangs have appeared, who pick the area clear of velvet swimming crabs .
Why take a crab home in a small bucket, where it will probably quietly expire in the back seat of your car?
If you do decide to let your child gather crabs, please be aware that there is a minimum ‘landing size’ for both edible and velvet crabs. You could be breaking the law and be subject to a heavy fine if checked. Staff from the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, can and do carry out stop checks locally.Please check out their website for more information.
Our local groups subscribe to the seashore code. Filey Brigg is an important resource for our local anglers,fishermen, school groups and families enjoying the gentle pastime of rockpooling. Please treat it’s wildlife with respect. The velvet crab can fight back , another name for it is the ‘devil crab’ . All the photographs below are taken locally.:
Velvet Crab on shore
Hermit crabs eating a jellyfish
Lobster on Spittals Rocks
Minute Pea Crsb under the microscope
Shore Crab defending its territory
Shore Crab Underwater
Spot the Hermit Crab
Squat Lobster Country
Romance of the Velvet Crab
Velvet crab underwater
Minimum Landing Size of local shellfish as of Dec 2011 see North Eastern IFCA site
LOBSTER (Homarus gammarus) 87 mm
EDIBLE CRAB (Cancer pagurus) 130 mm
VELVET CRAB (Necora puber) 65 mm
SPIDER CRAB (Maia squinado) 120 mm
MUSSEL (Mytilus edulis) 51 mm
RAZOR CLAM (Ensis spp) 10 cm
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