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Kodiak Fisheries Research Center Aquarium & Touch Tank

Collected Crabs of Chiniak Bay

Dungeness Crab

Photo of dungeness crab
The Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, is an important commercial species in the family Cancridae. They range from the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea to Santa Barbara, California. Their preferred habitat is sandy bottom and in eelgrass beds, subtidally from low intertidal to 230 meters, where they are often buried during daylight hours. They measure to 230 mm (9 inches).
Scientific name: Latin cancer (a crab) and magister (chief, magistrate).

Tanner Crab

Photo of a Tanner crab
In the family Oregoniidae, the Tanner crab, Chionoecetes bairdi, is an important commercial species in the Bering Sea and around Kodiak Island. They range from Norton Sound, the Bering Sea to Winchester Bay off Oregon, and the coasts of Hokkaido, Japan, and the West coast of Kamchatka, Russia. They prefer depths of 6-474 meters and are found usually on soft bottom of mud or sand. Males are larger than females; males measure to 140 mm (5.4 inches) and females to 81 mm (3.5 in). Females form large mating aggregations in mounds of hundreds of crab. Tanner crab are similar in appearance to snow crab, C. Opilio; C.Bairdi is distinguished by the red cornea of the eye versus green in C. Opilio.
Scientific name: Greek Chio (snow) and oiketes (an inhabitant).

Graceful Decorator Crab

Photo of a Graceful Decorator Crab
Almost always decorated by algae, sponges, hydroids, and other invertebrates, the graceful decorator crab, Oregonia gracilis, can be found intertidally and subtidal to 436 m, on mixed bottom types. In the family Oregoniidae, this crab is found from the Bering Sea to Monterey Bay, California, and also in Japan. Carapace length is up to 39 mm (1.5 in.)
Scientific name: Greek orego (to stretch, reach) and ia (quality or state of being); and Latin gracilis (slender, thin, simple).

Graceful Kelp Crab

Photo of a Graceful Kelp Crab
The graceful kelp crab, Pugettia gracilis, in the family Epialtidae, likes to decorate itself by attaching a piece of seaweed to its rostrum, the long extension of carapace under eyes. This crab ranges from the Pribilof and Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to Monterey Bay, California. The carapace length reaches 50 mm (2 in.) Prefers rocky areas where it can be found clinging to algae or anemones, from low intertidal to 140 m; juveniles prefer eelgrass beds.
Scientific name: Latin pugio (a dagger) or pugn (a fist), etta (diminutive ending), and ia (a state of being); and gracilis (slender, thin, simple).

Pacific Lyre Crab

Photo of a Pacific Lyre Crab
The Pacific lyre crab, Hyas lyratus, in the family Oregoniidae, is named for its shape. They range from the Chukchi and Bering Seas to Puget Sound, Washington. Males (80 mm) are larger than females (46 mm). They are found on mixed bottom types from 9 to 640 m. Their carapace is often covered with a growth of barnacles and other invertebrates.
Scientific name: Greek hyas (daughters of Atlas) and lyratus (lyre like).

Helmet Crab

Photo of a Helmet Crab
The helmet crab, Telmessus cheiragonus, in the family Cheiragonidae range from the Chukchi Sea and Norton Sound, Alaska to Monterey, California; however they are rare south of the Puget Sound, Washington. They also are found from Siberia to Japan in the Western Pacific. Their yellowish coloring and bristles distinguish them easily. Their preferred habitat is eelgrass beds and rocky areas with algal cover from low intertidal to 110 m. During the spring their molted carapaces can be seen on the beaches in large numbers. A similar species, Erimacrus isenbeckii, is caught commercially around the Pribilof Islands, Alaska.
Scientific name: Greek telm (a swamp or pond) and essus (diminutive suffix); and chir (hand) and gonia (angled).

Brown Box Crab

Photo of a Brown Box Crab
The brown box crab, Lopholithodes foraminatus, like the red king crab, is in the family Lithodidae. Kodiak Island, Alaska is the northern extent of its range which extends south to San Diego, California. Their preferred habitat is mud bottom or on vertical rock faces above the mud, from low intertidal to 600 m. Carapace length is to about 150 mm (6 inches). They feed on bivalves and organic debris and often bury in the mud. While buried, two circular foramins or holes (partially visible above) in the claws allow for water circulation to the gills.
Scientific name: Greek lophos (crest) and lithodes (stone); and the Latin foraminatus (provided with a hole or perforation).

Heart Crab

Photo of a Heart Crab
The heart crab, Phyllolithodes papillosus, ranges from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to San Miguel Island, California. In the family Lithodidae, their triangular carapace measures to 90 mm (3.6 in). They are found on rock surfaces subtidally to 183 m and prefer shallow areas with strong currents. They have been seen feeding on small sea urchins and sponge. Juveniles are often white with purple or orange markings.
Scientific name: Greek phyll (leaf) and lithodes (like rocks); and Latin papillosus (full of nipples or pimples).

Hairy Crab

Photo of a Hairy Crab
Ranging from Atka in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Puget Sound, Washington, the hairy crab, Hapalogaster mertensii, is in the family Lithodidae. A small crab, carapace length to 35 mm (1.4 in), it prefers to be under small, loose algae-covered rocks from low intertidal to 55 m.
Scientific name: Greek hapal (soft, tender) and gaster (belly, stomach).

Red King Crab

Photo of a grasping pair of Red King Crab
This "grasping pair" of male and female red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, were collected in the shallow waters of Womens Bay, Kodiak Island. They migrate to shallow water to mate or "grasp". The juveniles stay in shallow waters aggregating into huge balls of crab; in Womens Bay these congregations often cling to pilings under a pier. The pods disperse at night, reforming at dawn. Adults are large, males 227 mm by 283 mm, reddish brown to purple, covered with spines. They range from Barrow, Alaska and the Chukchi Sea, the Bering Sea to the Queen Charlotte Islands, and along the Aleutian Islands to Japan. They have been recently introduced to the Atlantic coast of Russia and Norway. Adults prefer sand or mud bottoms, ranging from 3 to 366 m. Their diet consists of sea stars, urchins, clams, barnacles, and other benthic invertebrates. The largest crab in U.S. waters, the king crab are very important commercially; in U.S waters, they are presently taken primarily in the Bering Sea and in Southeast Alaska.
Scientific name: Greek para (beside, near, parallel) and lithodes (rock like); and Latin camtshaticus (belonging to Kamchatka).

Alaskan Hermit Crab

Photo of an Alaskan Hermit Crab
A common hermit crab, the Alaskan hermit crab, Pagurus ochotensis, can be found in the Northwestern Pacific and the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, to off Point Arena, California; intertidal to 388 m. Pagurus ochotensis is in the family Paguridae and is identified by the yellowish eyes and the irridescent sheen to its legs and claws. It usually prefers moon snail shells, but in this photo is housed in a Fusitriton oregonensis.
Scientific name: Greek pag (that which is firmly set or fixed) and Latin urus (a kind of wild ox); and Greek ochos (anything which bears, a wagon) and Latin ensis (an adjectival suffix meaning, belonging to).

Pacific Crab

Photo of a Pacific Red Crab
The Pacific red hermit crab, Elassochirus gilli, is conspicuously red or orange. This photo shows the crab in the shell of Fusitriton oregonensis. This hermit crab, family Paguridae, ranges from the Bering Sea, Alaska, to the Puget Sound, Washington; low intertidal to 250 m. They prefer bedrock substrate in areas of fast moving current.
Scientific name: Greek elach (small, mean, little) and chir (hand).

Photographs by Jan Haaga

To view more photos of fish, invertebrates, marine mammals and more, visit the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's MultiMedia Gallery.

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