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No. 39 Catch a crab

Finding creatures on the beach at Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire
Finding creatures on the beach at Robin Hood's Bay | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Crabs can look pretty crazy when they're scuttling sideways along the beach or shore. Catching a crab is no. 39 of the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ list, and to catch one, you'll need to learn more about them here first.

Top tips to catch a crab

Catching a crab sounds easy, but you'll need to put some planning in if you're going to pull off this challenge. We've got some tips that should see you completing this challenge in no time at all when you're at the seaside.

Don't use a hook to catch your crab

Don't use a hook, use a net instead. You'll want some bait (food) inside the net to catch your greedy crab quickly. Crabs love a stinky dish of raw fish heads, liver or bacon - even better if it's a little rotten. Yuck!

Replace rocks and seaweed

Lift rocks carefully and try not to move any seaweed that is attached to the rocks. If you take any rocks out, then gently put them back after you've found your crab.

Work out what sort of crab it is

Look at your crab carefully. What colour is it? How big are its claws? How does its shell feel? The Marine Conservation Society have some great identification sheets that you can download and take with you when you go to the seaside - and they're not just for crabs, but all sorts of other things you might find at the beach.

A child is smiling and holding up a clear container containing several crabs that she's caught at St Helens Duver, Isle of Wight
A child crabbing at St Helens Duver | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Put the crab back afterwards

Crabs have homes and places to go to, so after you've gotten to know each other a little bit and once you've worked out what type of crab you've caught, then it's best to pop it right back where you found it.

See sea shells

Hermit crabs like to make their homes in the discarded shells of whelks or periwinkles, so if you've found some empty sea shells then could leave some as a housewarming present... or even an actual house!

Check the tide times

It's always wise to have checked the tide times for the beach you're hunting on to make sure you don't get cut off by an incoming tide.

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