Tuesday September 27, 2011
By R.S.N. MURALI
MALACCA: The re-appearance of a rare species of crab along the shores here has caused a stir among the people, especially Christians, due to a cross-like mark on its shell.
The crustacean, with the scientific name Charybdisferiatus, is a species of Malacostraca and is mainly found in Malaysian and Indonesian waters.
It was reportedly last seen in the Straits of Malacca in the 1960s.
Sparking frenzy: A fisherman holding the rare crab (left) next to a normal crab. The rare crab was reportedly last seen in the Straits of Malacca in the 1960s.
The species is different from another commonly found species in the state and which also has a cross on its shell.
A fisherman from Tengkera here hauled a dozen of these crabs on Sunday, sparking a frenzy among locals who rushed to buy the crabs.
The fisherman, who only wanted to be known as Man, 65, said the crabs were considered scarce.
He claimed that the crab was last caught in small numbers in the late 1960s.
“Only minimal quantities of the crabs were caught. Many locals don't buy them to eat, but to preserve the shell as it's considered sacred,” Man said.
State Rural Development and Agriculture Committee chairman Datuk R. Perumal said the state would ask the Fisheries Department to record and monitor the landings of the rare crab.
“We may conserve the crab by breeding it,” he added.
A marine biologist, who declined to be named, said the crabs became rare after rapid development along the state coastline led to the deterioration of the mangrove swamps where the crabs thrived.
Legend has it that Saint Francis Xavier was sailing to Malacca from an Indonesian island sometime in the 16th Century when he was caught in a storm in the Straits of Malacca.
He then dipped his crucifix into the sea and prayed to God to calm the raging storm.
However, the crucifix slipped from his grip and fell into the sea. He prayed that he could get it back.
When he reached the shores of Malacca safely, St Francis saw a crab crawling on the beach and clutching the same crucifix between its claws.
Surprised, St Francis knelt down and recovered his crucifix.
He blessed the crab and the sign of a cross then appeared on its back