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On 18 January, a shipment of crabs from Russia arrived at a port in Japan, some of which were bought up by wholesaler Marusan Mikami Shoten. After opening up their haul of red king crabs (an expensive favorite of Japanese seafood lovers) workers were surprised to see one of the large arthropods was shaded a rich lavender color all over.

Marusan Mikami President Kenetsu Mikami remarked about the discovery, “I’ve been dealing with crabs for 25 years, but this is the first time to see that color. It could be a good omen.”

The staff at Marusan Mikami decided to keep the lavender-colored crab alive and put it on display rather than sell or eat it. It has a leg span of about one meter (3.3ft) and weighs in at 3.5kg (7.7lbs).

Experts at a Hokkaido research organization suggest the cause of the coloration was “the effect of its diet or possibly a mutation causing a lack of pigment.” Japanese netizens suggested dye or radiation but also said that it was “cute” and the many wouldn’t eat it, with one remarking “crab tastes like cat pee anyway.” This led another to remark “of course you would know what cat pee tastes like.”

And the academic debate continued well into the evening.

Source: Hokkaido Shimbun via Hachima Kiko (Japanese)
Marusan Mikami (Japanese)

In case you want to visit the Lavender King Crab and buy some less special ones while you’re at it.