YOU wouldn't want to feel the pinch in the company of this giant crab.

Diving enthusiast Paul Martin was shocked to discover the huge creature in a plastic barrel on the seafloor at Balaclava Bay off Portland.

Builder and hobby diver Mr Martin reckons the crab is around 50 or 60 years old and was found protecting a female companion.

Mr Martin, originally from Weymouth but now living in Yetminster, said: "I had been going along the seafloor for about 15 minutes with my dive companion Mary Harris when we spotted this old plastic brewer's barrel.

"We checked it out and saw this crab inside so we decided to lift it out to get a better look at it.

"It must have weighed a good 30 kilos on the seafloor so it took some effort and a bit of time to get it out of the water."

After several attempts at floating the barrel, the divers, among a group of seven on an evening dive, got the barrel and its inhabitants out of the water.

Mr Martin, 40, said: "I've now got the male and his female companion in a keep bag in Weymouth.

"The male must be 50 or 60 years old at least and I want to give him to the SeaLife Centre to look after.

"It would be wrong to eat him or anything like that after he's been alive for so long."

He added: "It's not the size of his shell so much that I found surprising - it's his claws, which are considerably bigger than my hands.

"It is fairly common for these kinds of crabs to lose claws when they fight.

"They do grow back later but never as big as they were before.

"This one, however, has obviously never lost a claw."