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Rare Crab Caught by Aughrus Man Peter Anthony Lacey

Last week, fisherman Peter Anthony Lacey of Aughrus in NW Connemara, owner-skipper of the Island Dawn, became only the fifth man known to have caught a Toothed Rock Crab - very rarely caught in Irish waters.

Peter Anthony Lacey, holding his precious catch before it headed off to a new home in the Galway Atlantiquarium. Peter Anthonyís Island Dawn moored alongside Aughrus Pier in the background.

Peter Anthony was fishing for lobster and crab as usual in the Island Dawn, together with his helper Peadar OíToole, not far from the islands of Inishshark and Inishbofin, when he spotted an unusual looking crab in one of the pots they hauled. An unusual shape and outline, and an unusual red coloration made it stand out from all of the others.

Unusual it was indeed! For the crab was a Toothed Rock Crab (Cancer Bellianus), very rarely seen or caught in Irish waters, since it tends to inhabit much deeper water - from a low of 50m (160 ft) to a more usual depth of greater than 730m (2,400 ft): much deeper than your average crab fisherman works at.

The Toothed Rock Crab caught by Aughrus fisherman Peter Anthony Lacey of the Island Dawn earlier in October - only the fifth recorded specimen to have been caught in Irish waters.

Indeed, this is only the fifth recorded specimen of the Toothed Rock Crab caught in Irish waters. The first recorded catch was 70 years ago, in 1948 off south west Ireland. The second was 40 years later in 1988, much further out on the Porcupine Bank. A specimen was caught off Slyne Head 26 years ago in 1982; and another off Tory last year.

It was a great catch, and a rare one. This specimen is headed to the Galway Antiquarium on Tuesday 30th October, where it will arouse a great deal of interest by lovers of marine life.

The price of the usual large edible Brown Crab (Cancer pagurus) has soared in recent times, since the trade wars between the United States and China. Although most of us regret the outbreak of trade wars between countries, in this case itís an ill wind that blows no good, as they say: good news for Irish crabbers, anyhow! The discovery of a really rare species in the inshore waters of Connemara is a real cherry on the top of the cake!

So itís congratulations all round to Aughrus men Peter Anthony and Peadar.