Yes, that’s a vending machine, selling live crabs.
Live crabs!?! Because nothing says snack-on-the-go like a slightly hypothermic crustacean. Oh, and don’t forget the crab vinegar, sold conveniently on the bottom row!
cold and cramped crab
So who are these unlucky little crabs, forced into tiny “edible plastic” boxes and sold in a Nanjing (China) subway vending machine? No one really used scientific names in their articles/blogs (my nerdiness was quite offended by this), but they were commonly referred to as either “hairy crabs” or “dazhaxie”. As far as I can tell, that makes them Eriocheir sinensis, also known as the Shanghai hairy crab or the Chinese mitten crab.
Chinese mitten crab
If you’re a blue crab fisherman out of Maryland, you may have instinctively screamed and ran away from your computer. Why? The Chinese mitten crab is being quite the pesky invasive species up in American waters. It thrives in estuarine environments, making the hairy crab a great candidate for aquaculture cultivation.
However, the hairy crab is having trouble in China, potentially being affected by overfishing in the Yangtze River. (Does anyone know their management plan? Let me know!)
N = Nanjing, S = Shanghai, and the (seemingly) beautiful waterway is the Yangtze River
Hairy crab leisurely reading material: