Cracking open the crustacean!
What has two pairs of antennae and no backbone? A crustacean of course! This family of invertebrates includes well-known hard-shelled critters like crabs, lobsters and prawns.
Mud crabs are one of the coolest crustaceans. They are mostly found in Gladstone’s intertidal areas where they live in burrows in the mud, emerging at night to look for food using their 360-degree vision! They are also very dangerous (to fingers and toes) if they get hold of you as their powerful claws will stay jammed shut even if separated from their bodies — check out the size of them in the picture below!
Prawns are also some of the most popular crustaceans found on Australian plates from the waters of Gladstone — and none are more sought after than the giant tiger prawn (shown in the picture below).
Hard as nails!
A prawn’s shell is made of protein, calcium carbonate and chitin, which is similar to the protein in human hair and nails.
Out with the old, in with the new...
Crabs don’t grow constantly, they shed (or moult) their shell when they grow too big for it.
Spooky red eyes!
Prawns eyes glow ruby red in artificial light!
Peculiars of the prawn!
Prawns' shells are an exoskeleton (external skeleton) and prawns, like other arthropods such as spiders, have a segmented body and jointed legs – in their case five pairs for swimming and five pairs for walking! They also have two sets of antennae like all crustaceans , which you can see in the picture of the tiger prawn below.
Their shell is made of protein, calcium carbonate and chitin, which is similar to the protein in human hair and nails.
Rainbow or 'Tannum tiger' prawns and banana prawns are the most common species of prawn found in the Gladstone region. They like to live in areas with seagrass and use mangroves as nurseries for their babies.
Our prawn fact sheet has a lot more cool information about your local prawns — check it out!
The mud crab — a cracker of a crustacean
The green mud crab (Scylla serrata) is a big, powerful crustacean with a smooth shell (or carapace), and large claws that can crush shells. Sometimes called 'muddies', mud crabs can grow to more than 25 centimetres across their shells and weigh more than 2 kilograms. Their delicious taste makes them a regular in the kitchens of Queensland.
A mud crab's eyes are set on stalks which gives them 360-degree vision, both in and out of the water. They also have a pair of antennae between their eyes that can detect small changes in water movement while the tips of their legs are covered with tiny hairs that are very sensitive to touch and taste.
Remember that it's illegal to take female mud crabs... but can you tell the difference in the picture below? Make sure you read our mud crab fact sheet to find out!