Red King Crab

Red King Crab

Paralithodes camtschaticus

Market Name(s): King crab, Red King Crab, Alaska King Crab

Primary Source(s): Japan, Russia, United States

The largest of the commercially harvested crabs, king crabs are characterized by spiny shells and long, spidery legs. Most crabs have 10 appendages, but king crabs have six walking legs, one large “killer” claw and one small “feeder” claw. The best meat is the merus, which comes from the upper section of the walking leg. It is marketed as “fancy.” The crabs grow to 6 feet, from leg tip to leg tip, and from 4 to 10 pounds. Shell color varies according to harvest location. While red is the most common of the king crab species, there are also blue (P. platypus) and brown, or golden (Lithodes aequspina), king crabs. Red is most marketable, primarily because of size, followed by blue and then brown. Kings are found in shallow waters (60 to 100 fathoms) off the shores of Southeast Alaska and in the Bering Sea on flat, plain-like stretches of sea floor. King crabs often march in herds across vast expanses of these plains. They are caught in large, wire-mesh traps that measure 7 x 7 x 10 feet