Lambay | @natmuseumbohol

Lambay (Blue Swimming Crab – Portunus armatus)

The Blue Swimming Crab (Portunus armatus), locally known in Bohol as Lambay is a marine invertebrate that we often see but know little about.

The Blue Swimming Crab is widely common and distributed in the coastal waters of the Philippines. It could be found in near-shore shelf areas at depths above 70m.

It is a member of the crustacean class of aquatic arthropods that includes lobster, shrimp, and other crab species. Its body is covered with a hard shell or crust called a carapace.

Its carapace is hard, rough, and broadly flattened which extends with nine protrusions on the sides and with three pairs of long ridged legs and a pair of modified legs as swimming paddles.

They have a pair of powerful claws used for self-defense, to crush and grind their food, such as crustaceans, small shrimps, green phytoplankton, mollusks, and fishes.

Juvenile crabs are found in shallow bays with seagrasses and algal beds, while mature crabs prefer deeper waters. You can identify the gender of these species by looking at its abdominal flap, which could either be a V or U-shape.

The V-shape flap indicates that it is a male crab while the U-shape flap is a female crab.

In Bohol, Tubigon is well known for its lambay crabs. Moreover, a local dance originates from this town called Nilambay which mimics the side-walking, courting, pinching, clawing, and fighting off of the crab.

The Nilambay is now part of the annual town fiesta celebration and is also considered a Philippine Folk Dance.

To have a sustainable and productive marine resource, we must help to protect and preserve our marine ecosystem for future generations.

Source: Text by NMP Bohol Team | NMP Zoology Division

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