Infestation of parasitic rhizocephalan barnacles Sacculina beauforti (Cirripedia, Rhizocephala) in edible mud crab, Scylla olivacea

Screening of mud crab genus Scylla was conducted in four locations (Marudu Bay, Lundu, Taiping, Setiu) representing Malaysia. Scylla olivacea with abnormal primary and secondary sexual characters were prevalent (approximately 42.27% of the local screened S. olivacea population) in Marudu Bay, Sabah. A total of six different types of abnormalities were described. Crabs with type 1 and type 3 were immature males, type 2 and type 4 were mature males, type 5 were immature females and type 6 were mature females. The abdomen of all crabs with abnormalities were dented on both sides along the abdomen’s middle line. Abnormal crabs showed significant variation in their size, weight, abdomen width and/or gonopod or pleopod length compared to normal individuals. The mean body weight of abnormal crabs (type 1–5) were higher than normal crabs with smaller body size, while females with type 6 abnormality were always heavier than the normal counterparts at any given size. Sacculinid’s externa were observed in the abdomen of crabs with type 4 and type 6 abnormalities. The presence of embryos within the externa and subsequent molecular analysis of partial mitochondrial COI region confirmed the rhizocephalan parasite as Sacculina beauforti. Future in-depth descriptions of the life cycle and characteristics of S. beauforti are recommended as it involves a commercially important edible crab species and the effect on human health from the consumption of crabs is of crucial concern.