- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - A nearly 5-pound coconut crab was captured scurrying along a busy Honolulu street, and the state Department of Agriculture is hoping it arrived alone.

Holly Cantere, a resident of the Moanalua neighborhood, spotted the 4.8-pound crustacean just before noon Sunday. It was crawling along Salt Lake Boulevard, KHON-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1HvZtc6 ).

She captured the creature in a box and called the Agriculture Department. It was the first sighting of the invasive species since 1989, according to state officials.

Coconut crabs are the world’s largest arthropod and categorized with spiders and insects. The terrestrial hermit crab is native to areas throughout the Indian and Western Pacific oceans.

Rob Toonen, a University of Hawaii professor at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said coconut crabs can grow to 3 feet.

“Three feet is as big as a trash can. Literally, as big as a trash can,” Toonen said. “That’s why people are worried about it having it show up here. A crab that big can do damage if it’s wandering around trying to find things to eat.”

A coconut crab infestation would have a huge impact on natural resources, he said.

“They’ll raid people’s trash cans. Eat native birds. Eat juvenile plants. And tear up the landscape if they’re here. They grab a hold of things. Can rip them open. Can bust open a coconut. And the idea of that crawling around in their backyard is not going to be very pleasant to most people in Hawaii,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture took possession of the crab. The agency is not sure how it got to Oahu.

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Information from: KHON-TV, http://khon.com

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