Large Coconut Crab found on Salt Lake Boulevard

A Rare, but Illegal Sighting of a Coconut Crab in Hawaii
A Rare, but Illegal Sighting of a Coconut Crab in Hawaii

HONOLULU (KITV) -"They are strong enough to rip through coconut husks," said Trenton Yasui, Acting Invertebrate Aquatic Biota Specialist with the Department of Agriculture.

He says they're strong enough to snap off your fingers and indiscriminate enough to do some serious damage elsewhere.

"There's a threat to our native ecosystem. The Coconut Crab would definitely would feed on various native birds and turtles potentially, and it also could present a human health hazard for children and also for home pets.

Residents said they found it on the road near Salt Lake Boulevard.

The specimen is about three pounds and 16 inches from leg to leg.

On Monday, it was in no mood to let go of a stick meant to distract it.

The Department of Agriculture said it's about 10 years old.

Yasui said it's been 25 years since they've seen one outside in Hawaii.

"They're very strong," said James Manguon.

He's from Micronesia and said he's seen plenty there.

"The stomach is this big" he said, holding his hands out as wide as his shoulders.

"The pinchers are almost as big as my arm," said Manguon.

Adding to an unusual week for the Department of Agriculture, someone dropped off a seven-month old emu at the Panaewa Zoo on the Big Island through the state's amnesty program.

"Normally, she'd be very skittish and trying to run away and not be so comfortable, she wouldn't be comfortable like this," said Honolulu Zoo Keeper Nancy Leong, holding the emu partially in her lap.

Julio the Rooster's her pal now.

Keepers say the emu was raised by humans since it was a baby, so there's no chance of find a place back in the wild.

"She probably wouldn't even know what another Emu would look like. Probably in her eyes she thinks she's human," said Leong.

The Coconut Crab is headed to the Zoo too, and could be a resident for a long time.

Those gigantic hermit crabs can live to 60 years old and grow to more than three feet long.

"When it gets bigger it tastes pretty good," said Manguon.

Tasty maybe, but a real problem, and not just for invasive species.

Experts say in an urban setting, the crabs could not only hurt pets and small kids, but get into trash, landscaping, dig up plants, vegetable gardens, and so on.

It you're caught with one it's a Class C Felony.

That means a fine of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail.

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