Norway’s ‘Red King’ crabs are like creatures from the deep lagoon, measuring up to 1.8 m, 6ft across with fearsome spiky shells and bulbous eyes on stalks. They are also very tasty indeed.
Their freakish proportions may look like something out of a Sci Fi comic but they are the result of an innocent or misguided Soviet experiment. Scientists in the 19 60s decided these natives of Kamchattka, in eastern Siberia, would be a good way of adding a little luxury to the diet of the population so brought them over 2,000 miles (3,200km) to the Artic for farming.
A few escaped over across the Barents where the climate and lack of natural predators proved so favourable that they grew in dimensions and in population. The first red king crab was spotted in north Norway a decade later.
Now there are millions of the boggle eyed beasties and their march south (around 30 miles/48km per year) means they are being closely monitored to assess their impact on the marine environment. Some speculate that they might end up in British waters within the next four decades, which could make fishing in rock pools a rather dangerous contact sport.
One benefit of their invasion in Norwegian waters is that they have become a valuable cash crop for fishermen. The giant claws make extremely good eating although the body is unpalatable. Tourist fishing trips – usually combined with snowmobile treks and other winter sports –are run from Finnmark county; right at the top of Norway. The best time to go is between September and February. Just watch out for those claws