BUKIT MERTAJAM - A rare blue-coloured crab was saved from the cooking pot when a restaurateur bought it from a fishmonger at the Bukit Mertajam market here.
A.K. Ang, 40, said he didn't want the unusual looking crustacean to end up as an exotic dish as he has never seen anything like it before.
"I was buying fresh seafood at the market for my daily business when I saw a lot of people at one stall and they were taking photos of something with their phones.
"When I saw the colour of the crab, I knew I had to buy it.
"I bought it for RM37," said Ang, adding that he was told that the crab was caught in Kuala Muda, Kedah.
The blue crab has become a centre of attraction at Ang's Restoran Gong Ji in Juru.
Ang said he would choose an auspicious date to release the crab back into the sea.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) marine biologist Dr Aileen Tan Shau Hwai said the crustacean looked different from a common mud crab.
"The mud crab species is known as Scylla serata, but this crab does not look like it belongs to this species.
"I am saying this based on the different shape of the blue-coloured crab's carapace," she said.
Dr Tan said measurements on the ratio of a crab's width, height, shape and shell thickness are needed to determine the species.
"Closer observation and identification is needed for further confirmation.
"In addition, crabs are also able to change their shell colour as camouflage for protection purposes.
"The shell colour is also subject to the environment's condition; either it is in a pristine or polluted area," she added.
Blue commonly decorates many crab species, though it only tints the claws and legs.
North America's Virginia Institute of Marine Science has a collection of Atlantic Blue Crabs ranging from all-blue to purple, orange and even albino-white frozen for study. They were given by the region's crabbers who caught them.
The institute suspects all-blue Atlantic Blue Crabs are genetic flukes, though the purple and orange variants were found to be caused by a parasite and a virus respectively.