Strange Creature in Tuna Can

News: A British woman found a strange creature in her can of tuna.

On 19 January 2015, a British woman named Zoe Butler tweeted a picture of what she reported was an anomaly she found in a can of tuna. Butler addressed her tweets to UK media outlets the Daily Mail and the Nottingham Post, and her photograph circulated widely after it was reported upon by the press:

In a subsequent 22 January 2015 interview with the local news outlet, Butler claimed she discovered the unidentified creature after opening a can of Princes brand tuna she had purchased at her local Asda supermarket:



She said: “I opened the top of the lid and saw a purply thing, a gut sack or intestine — then I turned it round and pushed it with a fork and saw it looking back at me.

“It’s got like a spiny tail along the bottom — it’s quite grim.

“I dropped the fork, jumped back, screamed a bit and shouted for my nan to come and have a look.”


Butler’s grandmother told the Nottingham Post the oddity was “a little red and has eyes, bright black, looking at you … we did manage to ascertain that it was dead.” A local professor of veterinary parasitology posited that the strange creature resembled a juvenile crab without legs, while the Natural History Museum in London theorized it was a Cymothoa exigua, or tongue-eating louse. Princes later verified that the creature was in fact a Megalopa: a very small immature crab that is preyed upon by tuna and, according to Princes, “represents no food safety risk”:

Butler said of the identification: “I do feel sorry for it now because so many people say it’s cute — it’s like it gained a personality. A lot of people said it could be aliens but obviously it wasn’t — sorry to disappoint.”

Butler stated that she sought no recompense for the experience, but she wanted to know the nature and cause of her odd discovery and hoped to prevent something similar from happening to others. Lesley Willis, customer care manager for Princes, said the company would be contacting her to discuss compensation and added, “We appreciate that the appearance of the crab will have been unpleasant; however, please be assured that it represented no food safety risk.”

Last updated:   6 February 2015