The ocean and its inhabitants are exciting, and discoveries are abundant. However, researchers are not nearly done exploring the wonders of the creatures that live on the ocean bed, rocks, reefs, and shores.
Spider crabs are rated the world’s most giant, while the king crab holds the fifth spot on the list of giant crabs. Both are ocean crabs, but there are significant differences between their habitats, food, longevity, popularity, breeding, and classification.
King and spider crabs are sought after for their tender, sweet and tasty meat, and catching them for consumption proves very profitable for fishers and restaurants. However, as with most commodities, the price of crab meat depends on its availability and the processes needed to harvest them.
Spider Crab And King Crab Differences
The similarity between king and spider crabs ends with both being called crabs, which is incorrect since they are entirely varied species and are sought-after protein sources.
Comparing the two will highlight their differences, not claiming one crab to be superior to the other, beginning with the traits and attributes of spider crabs.
- Spider crabs have long white dotted legs with small, orange-colored bodies. They will startle you with their size and appearance in the event of an encounter. Japanese spider crabs can grow up to twelve feet in foot leg span and weighs an enormous forty pounds. Not only do they grow big, but they can also live up to a hundred years.
- Spider crabs live along the moderate waters of the pacific ocean near the coast of Japan at a depth of between four hundred and ninety-two and nine hundred and eighty-four feet. Once a year, these crabs migrate to shallower waters to spawn.
- Spider crabs are also Japanese spider crabs since they live off the Japanese coast.
- These crabs do not move quickly and therefore prefer to consume dead animals and plants on the ocean bed. However, from time to time, they will consume small fish and smaller crabs.
- Spider crabs are sought-after protein; since they are easy to catch and prepare, they are firm favorites at the dinner table. In addition, research has shown that the spider crab population is growing, and their abundance makes for more affordable prices at the market, where you can expect to pay between twenty and thirty-five dollars per pound.
Following are the traits and attributes of king crabs.
- King crabs are bright red when cooked, but live king crabs are red with blue or brown hues. King crabs are decapod crustaceans that have three pairs of walking legs, a pair of claws, and sharp spines that cover their entire body. King crab males typically live to the age of thirty, reaches five to six feet in foot leg span, and weigh between six and twenty pounds.
- King crabs live in the icy waters of the pacific and arctic shores. They also live on the shores of northern Japan, British Colombia, and Alaska. King crabs move to shallower oceans once it is breeding time and return to the cold depths shortly after.
- King crabs will hunt their food. Smaller king crabs will feast on algae, small clams, small worms, and small animals, while giant king crabs will devour mussels, clams, worms, barnacles, other crabs, fish, and sea stars.
- The three most sought-after king crabs are from Alaska: the Alaskan red king crab, the blue king crab, and the brown or “golden” king crab. Of these three, the Alaskan red king crab is the most popular.
- King crab populations are dwindling, and much care is needed to avoid them becoming extinct due to overfishing. Supply and demand for the crab determine the price, and you can expect to pay between sixty and seventy dollars per pound of king crab.
How Do spider And King Crabs Raise Their Young?
Spider crabs start their lives out as very tiny but fully formed crabs. The mating season lasts from January to April. During this time, the male deposits a sperm packet into the female’s abdomen. The female then carries the fertilized eggs in her abdomen until they hatch. Each female produces more than a million eggs, of which only a tiny number will hatch.
The “survivors” will hatch ten days after mating and start their journey without the help and support of their mothers. They will molt for the first time within ten to twelve days after hatching. Spider crabs stay on reefs, in seagrass and sandy seabeds.
King crabs are sexually mature at the age of seven. Then, a male and female crab will mate, fertilizing the eggs internally. Fertilized eggs are carried on the abdominal flap of the female for eleven to twelve months. The hatchlings resemble shrimp; even though they can swim, they are at odds with tides and currents.
After hatching, king crabs undergo two metamorphoses that turn them from resembling shrimp into full-fledged crabs. After that, King red crabs spend their lives on the ocean floor.
Responsible Crab Fishing
As mentioned earlier, spider and giant crabs are popular meal options that reach top dollar at food markets. Unfortunately, crabs are easy to catch and prepare, making them vulnerable to overfishing which can, alongside natural causes, lead to their demise.
Southwest crab industries are practicing fishing methods that do not harm the environment. They aim to keep the number of crabs caught at bay by releasing female crabs carrying eggs, molting and underweight crabs back to the ocean. This way, they contribute to helping the crabs multiply and grow in numbers.
Fishermen and scientists should work together to find ways to protect crabs for future generations.
Biologist Emma Pearson collaborates closely with the crab fishers of Dartmouth harbor to gather crucial information on crabs by joining them on crabbing trips and gathering information on the catches. Careful record keeping enables scientists and fishermen to detect changes in crab populations, enabling them to influence decisions regarding crabbing when necessary.
Just because crabs are easy to catch, in great demand at top dollar prices, and seem abundant does not mean we should not protect them. Enjoy your crab responsibly.