WATCH: Time lapse of Japanese spider crab molting

Time lapse video of Japanese Spider Crab molting

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - A time-lapse camera was set up above the habitat of one of SeaWorld’s crab species in the hopes of capturing the animal’s dramatic molt process on video.

Team members were thrilled to come in the next day and see the result: a 30-second video that shows a Japanese spider crab—the largest arthropod in the world in terms of leg span—molt out of its shell.

While viewers of the video might think they are looking at a creature from outer space, “It’s a perfectly natural occurrence for a spider crab,” said Aquarium Curator Mike Price. “But for us as marine scientists to be able to witness Mother Nature in action in such an impressive way, that’s a great day at SeaWorld!” Price added that the entire molt process took about six hours.

Crabs (and other crustaceans) cannot grow in a linear fashion like most animals. Because they have a hard outer shell (the exoskeleton) that does not grow, they must shed their shells, a process called molting.

The frequency of molt is in part determined by their growth rate, which is turn dependent on how much they eat. When the animal essentially outgrows its shell, the molt process begins. It can take anywhere from two to 12 hours.

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