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Red Rock Crab

Cancer productus

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This is a native Oregon species. As the name suggests, the adult Red Rock Crab has a fan-shaped carapace which is dark red in color. Juveniles can look very dissimilar from mature specimens, ranging widely in both color and pattern. The surface of the crab’s carapace is usually bumpy with a jagged edge which helps it blend in with the rocky ocean bottom where it lives. The pincers are large, powerful and have glossy black tips.

The crab is an aggressive predator and will attack and kill other crab species which stray into its territory. Its preferred food sources are barnacles and other invertebrates, the shells of which it can easily crush with its claws. It may also feed on live fish or dead animals if the opportunity presents itself.

The Red Rock Crab is an important species to both recreational and professional crabbers, with a sizable fishery for it existing in southern California.

Range and Habitat

The crab is common on rocky substrates in intertidal zones, in tide pools and around human structures such as pilings, docks and piers. It can be found all along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Baja California.

Conservation Status

Common.