Have You Been Eating Franciscan Crabs?

Serina Rahman is the co-founder of Kelab Alami and a Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. She is also a winner of the Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA)

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Look carefully at the swimmer crabs that you eat. One might be larger and differently-patterned from the rest. Its arms are longer than the regular blue flower crab, and it has a distinctive orange/brown pattern on its back. There is a magical story to this highly-sought after species (Charybdis feriata).

There are several versions to the tale, but it said that Saint Francis Xavier who traveled across Asia in the 1500s faced a terrible storm at sea. Some then say he touched the sea with his crucifix, others say he tossed it into the sea – but in the end, the sea calmed and they were able to safely reach the shore. It was there that he either met with a crab that was holding his crucifix or he met a crab that he blessed, and both ended up with the unique pattern on its shell.

Have You Been Eating Franciscan Crabs?

 

Folk beliefs aside, the crab is very distinctive, and to fishermen, a dangerous one to catch. Its extra-long pincers can wrap backwards over its body to grip tightly onto fingers trying to release it from a net. It rarely comes up in smaller sizes, and is quickly snapped up as soon as it reaches the market table.

Glance again at your seafood when it comes to you – who knows what stories lie behind its beautiful patterns! Pasar Pendekar Laut is a Kelab Alami initiative that supports artisanal fishermen. Find out more at https://kelabalami.weebly.com/pasar-pendekar-laut.html and stop by for fresh, chemical-free, sustainable seafood!

Have You Been Eating Franciscan Crabs?