Sir David Attenborough and the spider crab

The crustacean that got crabby with Sir David Attenborough.


I took my two-year-old son, Sam, to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth at the weekend, and I think it was one of the best hours of his life.


He couldn’t stop saying “Wow”, as he ran from one exhibit to another. Lobsters, crabs, sea urchins, rays and enormous sea breams, all magnified behind the thick glass ‘walls’, must have seemed like creatures from another planet to his young eyes – that is, if he’d had any idea that there are other planets.

So I was amused when I saw these pictures of Sir David Attenborough being equally entranced by a spider crab. Sir David was at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, filming for his new BBC2 series, First Animals, which starts tonight.

Though the photos don’t show it, apparently the crab took the opportunity of being on TV with the world’s most famous natural history presenter to pinch one of his fingers.

It makes me wonder, as I have often done since my son was born, how best to pass my love of wildlife onto him.

Some people say that the programmes Sir David has made are the greatest inspiration, but personally I believe seeing extraordinary beasts in the flesh – even in a captive environment such as an aquarium – is the most important thing.

One thing’s for sure: if Sam’s experience last week is anything to go by, then maybe he’ll still be as enthusiastic about spider crabs when he’s Sir David’s age.


We’d love to hear other people’s views on this subject, so do please add your own comments.

James is the Environment editor of BBC Wildlife