The humble brown crab has graced British dinner tables for centuries. But the native delicacy could be about to be muscled out by a new arrival on menus.
The Norway king crab has never been caught in significant numbers in British waters before.
But earlier this month Yorkshire fishermen discovered hundreds of them crammed into their pots off the coast of Bridlington.
Shaun Henderson, of Henderson Seafood, said his cousin Damian Chapman, who is a crabber in the North Sea, first found a king crab in one of his pots, usually used to catch brown crabs, several months ago.
Now the spiny delicacies are on their way to London dinner tables – and can even be bought fresh by ambitious home cooks.
The fishermen originally thought their catch was of red king crab, which originated in the Pacific before being brought to Russia’s Barents Sea by Soviet scientists in the 1960s.
But experts at the Natural History Museum and Norway’s Institute of Marine Research told The Telegraph it was actually the Norway king crab, also known as the prickly crab.
Dr Paul Clark, of the Natural History Museum, said he had “never seen it caught in these numbers before” in the UK.
While native to British waters, the species is rarely caught in large numbers and Mr Henderson said it had never found it in the pots before.
Now the fishermen are investing in new, bigger pots to take advantage of the new arrivals.