During winter the spider crab population migrate to the shallow water locations in the south of Port Phillip Bay, often seen at Blairgowrie and Rye piers. It is here that they aggregate and moult in large numbers, giving coastal users an insight into the world of the exceptional Spider Crab and an opportunity to witness this unique event.
With the annual aggregation event occurring over the next few months, we continue to call on the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) and Minister to implement a 'no take' season over the months April-July to protect the crabs and this unique occurrence.
In the past couple of years, many people have congregated on Rye pier to lower crab nets and catch crabs. The chicken carcasses and other food sources used to attract the crabs has resulted in pollution in the water and on the foreshore, while nets damage the sensitive marine environment under the pier. This takes away from the enjoyment of all other user groups who want to witness this wonderful phenomenon.
As a major stakeholder in the management of the Rye foreshore, we echo community concerns about the crabs and urge the Victorian government to protect them. Community groups that we are working with include:
- Rye Coastal Advisory Group
- Spider Crab Alliance
- Rye Community Group Alliance
- Victoria National Parks Association
Please see how you can get involved to help protect the spider crabs below.
*May 2022, the Rye pier is currently closed for reconstruction. Please go to the following link for more information: Rye Pier Approach Reconstruction (parks.vic.gov.au)
Photo credit: Bryce Nichol
The Shire has previously written to the State Government and the VFA to share significant concerns raised by the community regarding the increased level of human interference in the annual spider crab moulting event around Rye and Blairgowrie.
Mornington Peninsula Shire letters:
- 10 July 2020 - Spider crab Letter to Hon Melissa Horne MP, Minister for Fishing and Boating
- 18 March 2021 - Spider crab Letter to VFA
- 10 June 2021 - Spider crab Letter to Hon Melissa Horne MP, Minister for Fishing and Boating
- 7 January 2022 - Submission to VFA regarding Fisheries (spider crab) notice
Minister and VFA responses:
When Sir David Attenborough flew halfway around the world to document this amazing natural phenomenon as part of his Blue Planet television series, he recognised the importance of documenting and celebrating this wonderful event. In this spirit, we want to protect the crabs so people can witness the wonders of nature, not harm the crab population and risk the future of this species and the local ecosystem.
The Victorian Marine and Coastal Council (VMaCC) has produced a literature review on Natural invertebrate aggregations in coastal and marine environments: tools used to manage populations and benefits derived from management. VMaCC is the state's peak advisory body on marine and coastal issues.
Museum Victoria have further information and videos about the spider crabs (Leptomithrax gaimardii).
Parks Victoria are responsible for Port Philip Bay waters and have information about the spider crabs and marine environment of the Bay.
Victorian Fisheries Authority are responsible for managing the catch limits and fisheries, including the spider crabs.
If you plan to visit the aggregation, follow the tips on the Parks Victoria website for observing the spider crabs.
Add your voice to the call to protect the spider crabs:
- Join us in writing letters and or emails to the Victorian Fisheries Authority and the Honourable Minister Melissa Horne to implement a seasonal ban (from April to July) to protect overfishing of the spider crab. NB: Please BCC: firstname.lastname@example.org (so we can capture how many people are taking action)
- Share this page on social media and / or with your networks.
- Follow this page to stay up to date.
Join iNaturalist to document sightings (or no sightings)
- Deakin is partnering with Blue Carbon Lab, the Port Phillip Bay EcoCentre, the community and the Port Phillip Bay Fund to undertake a research project to 'Reveal the habits of the Port Phillip Bay's iconic spider crab'.
- As part of Deakin's research, iNaturalist observations will be collected. Go to the following webpage: A Community for Naturalists · iNaturalist
- Click 'Explore' along top banner of page
- Under Observations search species window for 'Giant Spider Crab' (see below screenshot)
- Review or create an observation