Crab Attack!

So, apparently getting attacked and bitten by random not-particularly-threatening beasties whilst on holiday is my thing.  Last September it was the duck in Hawaii, and a decade ago I was bitten by an eel while feeding it.

This latest one takes the cake though.

We were in Golden Bay.  We were determined to go swimming.  Fabulous Parapara beach – the massive curve of sand stretching away into the distance.  Endless blue sky, the sun beaming down, seagulls circling, waves crashing.

Perfect day at the beach

Perfect day at the beach

The picture was perfect, except for one minor detail – the tide was out, and the water was a bit shallow and murky.  As someone who grew up by the ocean, that’s not the best time to be in the water, but I kept my doubts to myself and we raced into the water.

It was warm for once, which is always exciting and unusual in New Zealand.  So we forged out, walking metres and metres out into the water towards the deep water line.

And then I screwed up.  I opened my mouth.

“You know, I know this is silly, but this makes me a little bit nervous.  In Hawaii we don’t go swimming in murky water because…”

And then a large crab clamped hold of the side of my foot.  There was a bit of…excitement.

I screamed, picked my feet up off the ground, and started treading water.

Half my friends thought I’d suddenly been sucked under, and freaked out.  The other half thought I was faking it.

When they ascertained that I hadn’t been sucked under, and wasn’t faking it, they calmed me down enough to get me to put one foot down on the bottom so I could lift the other up and see that the crab had been big enough to clamp its claws on either side of my foot and cut me.

At this point I was a little over the idea of swimming, so we headed back in, me trying to doggy paddle in waist deep water, and finally consenting to walk only when it got too shallow to swim.

And that’s when Friend #1 stepped on something slimy that shot out from under his foot.

And as he was yelping and saying ‘Ewwwww’ a crab attacked my other foot.

No.  I did not make that up.

And it wouldn’t let go!  I got it most of the way out of the water, squealing and shaking my foot like mad, before it finally gave up.


I’ve lived by the ocean all my life and never met anyone who was snapped by a crab in the water – twice in one day was just too much!

On the bright side, I had a pretty hilarious story to tell, and the claw marks to prove it.


Crab attack!

Crab attack!

Crab cuts

Crab cuts

By the way, the reason you don’t go swimming in murky water in Hawaii is that that is when shark attacks, as uncommon as they are, are most common – the theory is that sharks mistake swimmers, and particularly surfers, for seals or turtles in the dim water.




  1. Zach says

    It does sound like you have bad luck! That’s so funny about the timing–right when you were saying that about the water! I don’t blame you for screaming.

  2. Well, you were lucky – it wasn’t a shark – but eugh, that must have been so uncomfortable and painful and unpleasant all the same!
    But your laughter in the photo proves you got over it. 🙂

  3. Eeeeerrrrpppp. Two nips in one day! No fun at all, while it was happening.

    Anything with crablike claws has always given me the heebie jeebies. The East Coast of the U.S. is full of them, and in fresh water we have crayfish (crawdads), which also like to scoot out from under rocks and nip toes.


    Very best,


    • Yeah, my first encounter with a crab was in Delaware… Which is rather funny, because the majority of my stay was in the crab state of Maryland, but I saw none there.
      I saw my first crab at night, and I was quite scared because there’s a story (implied to be exaggerated, but still) about ferocious night crabs in Arthur Ransome’s Peter Duck.

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