The European Spider Crab alternates its colours between breeding and non-breeding seasons. They appear as a red colour during breeding season and a light orange or brownish colour during non-breeding seasons. The whole body of these animals are covered in small bumps and spines.


They are found in the Mediterranean Sea, primarily on the seafloor upto 150m deep. This species is also migratory and an individual can move upto 100 miles in 8 months. This migratory behaviour usually occurs between September to November.


The diet of this species varies seasonally.  Seaweeds and molluscs feature heavily in the winter seasons and sea urchins, sea cucumbers and other echinoderms in the summer.

Predators & Threats

All crabs and lobsters are extremely vulnerable during their moulting periods. Moulting leaves these animals open to predation from octopuses and large fish, including sharks.


  • These animals are one of the largest species of crabs within European waters.
  • The reason for migration of these organisms is not fully understood. However is thought to be linked to predation avoidance and breeding.



Common Name(s)Scientific Name
European Spider Crab, Spiny Spider Crab, Spinous Spider Crab Maja squinado
 Up to 20cm carapace length
 5-8 years

Best Time to Look

Distribution all year round, however they are illusive during moulting periods.

Where to find European Spider Crab