Crabs from Alaska: Types, characteristics and more

The state of Alaska located in the Bering Sea, is quite known for its crabbing industry, which is the main economic activity of such region. It is time to learn more about the most common Crabs from Alaska


Red King Crab or Alaskan King Crab

This is a decapod crustacean very common in the Bering Sea. These crabs are quite big, reaching a shell width of 28 cm and a leg span of 1.8 square meters.

The red king crab is the most coveted species by fishermen in Alaska, since it is highly consumed worldwide.  This fact has promoted several regulations in order to allow the fishermen to capture pre-established amounts of these creatures, maintaining always the proper echo balance.

Characteristics of the Red King Crab

These creatures turn red in color when cooked, unlike the dark burgundy that they reflect when they are alive. This fact originates their names. In terms of weight they can reach up to 14 kgs, which makes of them one the biggest and heaviest species of crabs.

In terms of habitat they live at depths of no more than 200 meters, although this is quite related to the stage of their lives. The young specimens tend to prefer shallower waters.

Their diet is comprised by several species such as worms, bivalves, echinoderms and algae, although this aspect is also related to the stage of their lives. Its flavor is sweet, moist, and succulent, which makes easy to understand why it is so consumed.

crabs from alaska: red king crab

Blue King Crab

The blue king crab or Paralithodes platypus in scientific terms, is the largest king crab species and one of the biggest crustaceans in the world.

Characteristics of the Blue King Crab

These crabs are omnivorous, since they eat a wide variety of invertebrates, as well as any dead or decaying organic matter (plant or animal).

This species is characterized by its brown color with royal blue highlights, and in the same way than the red king crab, they turn red in color after being cooked. In terms of flavor it is similar than that of its red cousin but a little sweeter.

Specimens of blue king crabs of up to 8 kg have been fished. They are characterized by having bigger claws than the other species, and they are more delicate than the red king crabs, because they live in extremely cold waters.


Snow Crabs

The snow crabs or Chionoecetes opilio  in scientific terms, also belong to the group of most popular crabs from Alaska. The males of this species reach up to 13 centimeters in shell width, but females in few occasions grow more than 8.5 centimeter, which makes of them smaller than the previously mentioned species.

They are characterized by the brownish tonalities of the upper portion of their shells, which turn lighter in the lower one. Their eyes are green or greenish blue.

The snow crabs inhabit in deep waters, of more than 300 meters in depth, which makes of them a very difficult and risky species to capture.

This species is also quite consumed when it is available, but its price is commonly high, because of the troubles that its fishing entails. It provides proteins, fats, and it lacks of carbohydrates and fiber.

Bairdi Crabs

The bairdi crabs or Chionoecetes bairdi in scientific terms, are closely related to the snow crabs (Chionoecetes opilio )  being difficult some times to differentiate them. The overfishing of this species caused a huge decrease of its population, but the proper regulations were applied 15 years ago which normalized such situation.

Other crabs

The wide diversity of marine life in the area includes many other species, such as the golden crab, which is a species of small size, characterized by the golden orange hue of its shell.

The scarlet king crab which is scarce but quite consumed and the Dungennes crab, which on the contrary is quite abundant in this area; are also included in the group of Crabs from Alaska.

Crabs from Alaska: Economic Importance

Crabs represent 20% of all marine crustaceans caught, cultivated and consumed throughout the planet, a figure that stands at 1.5 MILLION tons per year. In the case of Alaska the fishing of these creatures represents its main economic activity

Crab dishes are prepared and eaten in different ways all over the world. In certain species only the forceps or the legs, or even both, are ingested. Such is the case of the larger crabs, such as the snow crab.

The truth is that it is a very popular food in some countries, such as Spain, Hong Kong, USA, Japan, France, Canada and Portugal.

Let´s learn how they fish in alaska


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