The biggest king crab is the blue king crab. Many specimens weigh over 18 lbs (8 kg). They are found at the Pribilof Islands and St. Mathew Island at Alaska. This crab can also be found along the Russian and Japanese coasts.
Classification and Distribution
The king crabs or stone crabs are decapod crustaceans. They belong to the Lithodidae family (Lithodoidea superfamily). Originally, the king crab was included in the superfamily Paguroidea.
These crab like creatures are often found in cold places. Due to their succulent taste, numerous species are captured and marketed as food.
The stone crabs are said to be descended from hermit-like crabs. This theory is favored because it helps explain why the asymmetry is still present even among the biggest king crabs. The asymmetry is most conspicuous at the abdomen. However, there are still some scientists who do not believe this theory.
There are 14 genera, which include 113 species.
The Golden King Crab (Lithodes aequispinus)
The golden king crab is found at the Aleutian Chain off Alaska. This king crab is also found near Prince William Sound, Shumagin and Pribilof Islands. The average weight is 5 to 8 lbs (2 to 4 kg). It is physically smaller than the blue and red king crabs. They have a somewhat sweet taste.
Due to their small size, the golden king crab is often sold cheaply. The golden king crab goes as deep 1800 ft (550 m or 300 fathoms) in the water.
Scarlet King Crab (Lithodes couesi)
Compared with the biggest king crabs, the scarlet king is physically much smaller. In addition, its population is limited, so it is not harvested often.
The Red and Blue King Crabs
The blue king crab (P. platypus) and the red king crab (P. camtschaticus) are physically similar. Their life cycle and shape are not that different. The dissimilarity lies in the habitat.
The blue king crabs are found in the deeper sections of the rock and gravel in and around the Diomede Islands and Pribilof, St. Matthew. The red king crabs however, like the sandy and muddy areas at Norton Sound and Bristol Bay.
Facts about the Red King Crab
The red king crab possesses an 11 month brood cycle for their initial reproductive year. This changes to 12 months the following year. Some species can have a leg span of 6 ft (1.8 m). They also have a carapace width of 28 cm (11 inches).
Although it is found between the islands of St. Lawrence and Aleutian, some species are located at the European Arctic and the Barents Sea. The king crab was placed there on purpose, but since that time it has been turning into a nuisance.
Red king crabs are the most widely caught and eaten, making up nearly 90% of yearly king crabs gathered.
Aside from being the biggest king crab in the world, the blue king crabs possess planktotrophic larvae. This undergoes 4 transformations at the water column. This leads to the glaucothoe stage wherein it looks for a home at the ocean floor.