Spider Crab

Army of the Bay


Every year, an army of spider crabs gathers in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay ahead of the annual winter moult. It’s an army like no other and they march not in unison, but in an organised chaos on eight long legs. What might sound like the beginning of a sci-fi alien war is, in reality, something much more spectacular: the march of giant spider crabs, one of the world’s greatest marine migrations. And it happens in the waters of Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay.”


Self Commissioned


2008 - 2016


As the name suggests, these crabs are massive. Their legs are over 70cm long with a body measuring nearly 17cm wide. As the water cools from the sweltering summer heat these soldiers, with their orange armour-plated uniforms, emerge from the depths and advance on the sandy shallows. Their numbers swell into the tens of thousands. The result is a moving mountain of crabs that can be 2m high and extend over 1km. It transforms the turquoise waters of the Mornington Peninsula into a moving sea of orange that blankets the shallows. This natural phenomenon is believed to be linked to the crabs’ annual winter moult. Like most crustaceans, a hard suit of armour protects these soldiers but, while it protects the crabs, it doesn’t allow them to grow. So the crabs need to get rid of the old armour and grow a new bigger one. This natural wonder is unique to Victoria and occurs as the warm waters cool between late March and June. It’s a phenomenon that needs to be seen to be believed


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