A GIANT crab with a shell 12in wide was caught by a diver off Portland.

The crustacean, weighing 17lb and with a claw span of 9in, was found by diver Paul Worsley and is thought to be the largest edible crab captured in British waters so far.

It was caught on the wreck site of the warship the Empress of India, which was sunk off Portland as a gunnery target in 1913.

Mr Worsley, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, found the creature while on a diving trip from Lyme Regis. Douglas Lanfear, who runs the dive boat Blue Turtle, said he was amazed at the size of the crab.

He said: "It was truly a monster. It was the biggest crab I have ever seen in all my years.

"There were fishermen who have been working here for 30 years and they said they hadn't seen anything like it. The claws were absolutely huge - as big as my hands - and if you got your finger caught, it would take it off."

He added: "It was caught 13 miles off shore. I don't know why it was so big, but probably just because of age.

"It had managed to escape the fishermen somehow and reach this great size.

"It was big enough to feed 10 people."

In May, a 36in long lobster with claws 8in long and 4in wide was caught by another diver from Mr Lanfear's boat.

It is the second giant crab to be found off Portland in a week. Diver Paul Martin found one at Balaclava Bay, as reported in the Dorset Echo on Saturday.