Surprising Predators Make Life Difficult for Spanner Crabs

University of the Sunshine Coast
For years, fishers have suspected sharks of stealing their spanner crab catch. Now a University of the Sunshine Coast study has cleared sharks and instead uncovered three unexpected culprits taking a bite out of Australia’s commercial crab industry.

UniSC researchers teamed up with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and commercial fishers to understand what was going on below the water and were surprised to discover two of the world’s most endangered marine rays were the only offenders preying on spanner crabs once they were in the traps.

The critically endangered bowmouth guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma) and wedgefish (Rhynchobatus) are rarely observed in waters off Queensland’s South East, which produce 80 percent of the total catch of Australia’s spanner crab fishery.

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