In many areas of the UK, the population of velvet swimming crabs, Liocarcinus puber, has increased significantly in recent years and commercial fisheries have developed around them. The catch is usually exported to France & Spain. Very easy to distinguish in the field with its red eyes and flattened back legs, this crab grows to about 12cms across the shell. It is a very quick moving crab and can swim fast sideways. It also adopts a threating posture when approached. The reference to velvet in its name comes from the extremely smooth material which covers the surface of its shell. The picture shows a female carrying a mass of fertilised eggs attached to the abdomen - this is often referred to as being "in berry".
North Sea - St. Abbs Marine Reserve