In Raiatea, the tupa (land crab) is the island mascot. Its image is featured on all the local island and city insignia. Whenever you walk along the waterfront road, these little crabs scramble for cover, hoping to avoid being someone’s dinner. In fact, the edible tupa are revered for their prolific nature, quick to reproduce and prepare for dinner. During years of island famine, tupa provided necessary sustenance for its otherwise starving people.
VIDEO: Tupa crab on the move!
We were invited to a fundraising event on the southwest side of Raiatea. Among the typical Polynesian fare of roasted breadfruit, pulled pork, coconut milk taro and banana poi, they offered the below delicacy. The inside was like a cream soup a la tuna flavor. It really was quite delicious.
These little crabs are harmless and sorta charming. After being in Raiatea for some time, they grow on you. Thus inspired, I drew my own reminder of these silly land crawlers that show enormous bravery under stress when caught outside their dugout holes.