A striking golden crab originally photographed on Taveuni has now been found on Kaibu Island, and represents either a new species or a new record for Fiji.
First photographed by Paddy Ryan at the Nabogiono wildlife centre, Taveuni in 2009, Dick Watling managed to capture the first specimen during a recent survey on Kaibu Island, in the Northern Lau Group.
Apart from its vivid orange colour, this crab is strange in that it has has only been recorded from the base of large trees where it climbed around with great dexterity – clearly its preferred habitat. It had tree crevice bolt holes into which it retreated.
The crab may well be the sesarmid Labuanium rotundatum a species known from western Sumatra to the Cook Islands and north to Hawaii but with many distribution gaps in between including Fiji.
These crabs are noted as generally being found at the base of trees up to 5 or so metres and hiding in tree holes or crevices. They are mainly nocturnal or active during rain.
L.rotundatum is well known and described as “usually grey to dark greyish-brown, with smaller specimens having more light and dark colored blotches”. This is very far removed from the striking golden colour of the two specimens seen in Fiji.
The specimen will be given to Johnson Seeto for the USP collection awaiting further study by a crab expert.
But please send any reports of other tree dwelling crabs to us here at NFMV.