Giant crab on display at exhibition

A giant Tasmanian king crab has had a lucky escape from an Australian cooking pot and been given a new home in the UK.

The 18lb monster crab, named Russell after feisty Aussie actor Russell Crowe thanks to his gladiator-style suit of armour and no-nonsense attitude, will now live at the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham after being saved from the dinner table.

Fished from the deep waters off southern Australia, he and two more of his kind were destined for market, and probably the barbecue, until a Sea Life scout spotted them and struck a deal with the fishermen.

The three were flown to the UK at a cost of £3,000 each, and delivered to Sea Life's main collection centre in Weymouth, Dorset.

One went on display in Weymouth in May and another went to Germany, but until now Russell has been twiddling his giant claws and growing steadily bigger in a behind-the-scenes quarantine tank.

Jamie Turner, from Birmingham's Sea Life, said: "We thought it was time Russell was unveiled to an admiring public. Happily we launched a new feature exhibition 'Claws' earlier this year, and felt this was the perfect stage for him."

Mr Turner said Tasmanian king crabs are the second biggest species in terms of body mass, in the world and Russell could potentially double in size.

"Russell may be massive now, but he could eventually almost double in weight to over 30lbs. Only the Japanese king crab is bigger, reaching up to 40lb," he said.

Russell's biggest claw is as long as a child's arm and looks powerful enough to sever steel cable. He uses this claw for crushing and gripping, and his smaller claw for tearing off bite-sized scraps.

In the wild Tasmanian king crabs will eat anything they find on the seabed, but at the Sea Life Centre Russell will dine on scraps of mackerel, squid, herring and prawns.