Chinese Mitten Crab
The Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis), also known as the Big Binding Crab and Shanghai Hairy Crab, is a medium-sized burrowing crab and native in the coastal estuaries of eastern Asia from Korea in the north to the Fujian province of China in the south. This crab migrates to the coastal waters of Europe and North-America.
This species’ distinguishing features are the dense patches of dark hair on its claws. The crab’s body is the size of a human palm. The carapace width is 1.25 to 4.00 inches and the legs are about twice as long as the carapace is wide.
Mitten crabs spend most of their life in fresh water, but they must return to the sea to breed. During their fourth or fifth year in late summer, the crustaceans migrate downstream, and attain sexual maturity in the tidal estuaries. After mating, the females continue seaward, over-wintering in deeper waters. They return to brackish water in the spring to hatch their eggs. After development as larvae, the juvenile crabs gradually move upstream into fresh water, thus completing the life cycle.