A Bunbury family started their Christmas feast early after snaring an unexpected mud crab off their jetty in Pelican Point.
Wayne Abbs said he got the shock of his life when he pulled the big crustacean out of the water.
“The kids were fishing off the jetty with crab nets when they started screaming that they needed help,” Mr Abbs said.
“I thought it was just a blue manna and told them to pull it up themselves.
“When they said that they couldn’t I gave them a hand and sure enough there was this monster mud crab.
“I know they’re pretty prevalent up north but this is the first time I’ve seen one down here.”
Mud crabs are tropical crustaceans and although it is not unheard of to find them in Bunbury it is rare.
“They do prefer warmer water which is why they’re more common closer to the tropics,’’ Dolphin Discovery Centre marine biologist Phil Coulthard said.
“But with warmer temperatures across the State mud crabs that get carried here as larvae by the Leeuwin current are able to survive.
“Not many make it to adulthood though and judging by the size of the one Wayne and the kids caught it must have been at least two years old.”
Mud crabs also make for better eating than the more common blue mannas, according to Mr Abbs.
“We thought about saving it for lunch on Christmas day but didn’t know if it could go in the freezer,” he said.
“In the end we threw him straight in the pot with some boiling canal water for about 11 minutes.
“It had a lot more meat in it than a blue manna.”