Island invaded by a new kind of crab

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed the CRAB, or Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy, for stability on the beach or in the water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed the CRAB, or Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy, for stability on the beach or in the water.

The mystery started with a phone call from local resident Dave Kahn and led to a chase on the front beach for photographic evidence.

“It looks like we have been invaded,” Kahn said, referring to a strange three-legged structure that appeared on the beach in front of his home.

The photos show a tall mechanical object that, indeed, could seem to be from another world.

The creature is called the CRAB, which stands for Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy. It is a unique three-wheeled vehicle built by the Wilmington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor beach nourishment projects.

The CRAB consists of a tripod with an operations platform 35 feet above the ground. It is powered by a 53-horsepower Volkswagen engine which drives a variable-stroke hydraulic pump transferring power to hydraulic motors at each of the wheels.

The CRAB weighs in at about 18,000 pounds. Though it appears top-heavy, the liquid-filled tires and wide wheelbase make it very stable.

Its top speed is 2 mph on land and somewhat less in the water. Since the maximum significant wave height for operation is 6 feet, the CRAB is capable of operating in all but the most severe storms.

Why has this creature invaded our shore? According to one of the ‘aliens’ who accompanied the vehicle, the CRAB is used to monitor beach sand before and after any beach renourishment project.

For a video of the CRAB in action at Nags Head, Outer Banks in North Carolina, search for “Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy” on www.YouTube.com or click this link.


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