parasite crab in oyster (l) Whole Foods Market building entrance with sign (c) oyster with baby crab parasite inside (r)

Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock @malamamaofficial/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘This is why it’s $1’: Customer slams quality of oysters they received on $1 oyster Fridays at Whole Foods

'Oh my God! It's a baby!'


Parks Kugle


Posted on Apr 22, 2023   Updated on Apr 22, 2023, 8:52 pm CDT

The last thing you expect to see when shucking an oyster is a six-legged parasite. In a TikTok, viewed over 1.6 million times, Mala Mama Chili Oil (@malamamaofficial) pulled two pea crabs from her bivalve.

Mala Mama’s video begins with a close up of the Whole Foods tag around a bag of unshucked oysters. “Whole Foods, $1 oysters on Friday…this is why it’s $1.” She slides her finger into the oyster shell and scoops out a tiny soft shell crab. “It’s a crab,” she says incredulously. “A parasite crab.”

“Oh there’s another one,” a voice says off camera. “Oh my God! It’s a baby!” the voice exclaims as they realize that the second dust note is a smaller soft shell crab inside the oyster.

@malamamaofficial #wholefoodsoysters #wholefoods #malamamachilioil #littlecrabber ♬ original sound – Mala Mama Chili Oil

Users quickly explained the meaning of those tiny crabs:

“It’s a pea crab! They’re edible and a sign that the oyster is living in good conditions.”

“I got a pea crab once at a restaurant and asked about it and all the servers were like damn that’s good luck! Eat it!”

“It’s a pea crab…they’re normal and taste sweet.”

“Those are pea crabs and are signs of the oyster living in quality water.”

Pea crabs are soft-bodied crabs that live inside bivalves like scallops, oysters, and mussels. They are kleptoparasites, which means they steal food from the host as it filters through its gills. Though it may be disconcerting to find the little creatures in your food, they are actually considered a delicacy and taste sweet. George Washington apparently loved them.

Commenters continued to sing the praises of these tiny creatures:

“Most east coast oysters have crabs in them. People love when they find them!”

“We call them slough crabs. They’re a delicacy on this island and oysters are the best when they have crabs in them.”

“I got one yesterday and ate it. Can confirm they’re pretty good.”

“It’s pea crab! I shuck oysters for a living, the oysters are totally safe to eat!! You can honestly eat the crabs too, they’re soft-shell.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Mala Mama Chili Oil and Whole Foods via email for further comment.

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*First Published: Apr 22, 2023, 8:51 pm CDT