Sunday, December 04, 2005

Crab-fest in Sematan, Sarawak

By Catharine Goh

A relative of lobsters and shrimps, crabs will soon be synonymous with the small fishing town of Sematan at the southern tip of Sarawak, about 110 km from the state capital of Kuching.

A crab festival and carnival was launched recently at Sematan by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan to promote the fishing town as a popular tourist destination.

"We aim to draw more visitors to Sematan, which is already synonymous with crab rearing. More home stay and village stay facilities will be provided for tourists," he said.

The Urban Development and Tourism Ministry is upgrading accommodation facilities in Sematan and promoting its attractions, which include pristine national parks such as the marine national park for turtle conservation at the nearby Talang Talang and Satang Islands as well as long stretches of beach fronting the South China Sea.

The Sungai Batang Kayan Bridge, which was completed last July to replace a ferry, has also improved access to the town, he added.

During the three-day carnival, visitors were able to taste crab-based dishes and products such as herbal crab fried rice, crab pie-tee, crab sandwich and crab burger.

Other activities included a telematch, crab cooking competition, crab-tying competition, guessing the number of crabs in a jar contest, and visiting a caged crab farm.

Although crabs are related to lobsters and shrimps, they have evolved to walk or run sideways, as well as burrow and swim.

The body is covered by a chitinous shell called a carapace, with its abdomen tucked under the body, serving as a brood pouch for eggs.

A crab's segmented body has several pairs of appendages, of which usually five pairs serve as walking legs and two as sensory antennae.

The pincers, called chelae, are located on the front legs and are used for fighting, display, and feeding.

Crabs can possess fairly complicated nervous systems and are considered to be more advanced as they can live in more extreme areas because of their ability to adapt well to the changing environment.

They can see fairly well with their compound eyes; their senses of smell and taste are also more advanced which help them to find food and mate easier.

Reproductive and social behaviour sometimes include complex mating rituals and communication techniques such as drumming or waving the pincers. This is because crabs tend to be aggressive towards one another, and the males often fight to gain access to the females.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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