Rock Crabs| All You Need To Know

Rock cras

Rock crabs and decapods that live on the Pacific coast are easy to catch. They are considered the favourite dish in California, allowing them to sell out commercially. They prefer warm water for habitat and are buried upward about 300 feet from the ocean floor.

Rock crabs are smaller and do not have much meat in their bodies. But their claws have meat in them and are delicious. Here we will explain all about rock crabs.

Scientific name and classification:

The scientific name of rock crab is “Cancer productus”. Its other names are yellow and brown crab. They belong to the Cancridae family and Malacostraca class.


There are many species of rock crab in different colours, including;

  • Yellow rock crab; lived in sandy areas along the coast
  • Red rock crabs; are sold by fisheries on a large scale; their habitat is Pacific Coast, and they are sold in California
  • Brown rock crabs; are present on reefs and have no specific size difference but are different according to their habitat and colour

Incredible facts about rock crabs:

There are five facts about rock crabs discussed below;

  1. These crabs have five pairs of legs, but the first two are known as claws
  2. Their shell is round and flat, which help them to hide under sand and rocks.
  3. Such type crabs are slow movers and cannot move much.
  4. Hairs are present on their legs which helps them to move.
  5. The average life duration is about 5-6 years, but a proper environment allows them to live about eight years.

Rock crab appearance:

This species mostly has a white to the red-brown shell, which is why they are called red rock crabs. They have heavy and chunky bodies and huge claws.

Besides this, Their claws are Brown and black and have lighter-coloured tips, making it easy to identify them. They use their claws to break down the shell of snails and their other prey.

The average rock crab’s weight is about 13 ouches, and its shell can attain a size of 4 inches.

Distribution, Population, and Habitat:

As female rock crab produce a lot of eggs, and due to this, it is difficult to determine how many live in the world.

But it is enough to tell that over half a million pounds are fished in California in a year. Their number of species is so high, and they are still alive.

The majority of this species lived in rocky and reef areas. Therefore, they prefer to live in deeper water for hunting and scavenging. They are also found in freshwater.

Predators and prey

Predators and Prey:

When these crabs are hungry and search for food, they capture anything which they can catch easily by holding down their claws. As scavengers, they are not picky eaters but prefer other invertebrates to eat. They eat fish and dead animals.


The diet of rock crabs depends on the place where they live. Most of them like to eat worms, clams, and mussels. They can also eat sea cucumbers and amphipods. However, if dead fishes are present, they prefer to eat them.

Reproduction and Lifespan:

The male and female rock crab mate usually from October to June. Because the female crab has a softer shell during this time and feels comfortable during mating, the male crab protects her when she is in the moulting phase. 

After three months, the female produces eggs in the abdominal sac. Before laying eggs, the female goes to where the eggs will hatch. She hides for about 12 to 13 days in the sand. The female crab can lay 100,000 eggs at a time.

Eggs are fertilized by sperm that the female stores during mating with the male crab. When she lays the eggs, she carries them for about 6 to 8 weeks. 

Baby rock crabs like to eat octopuses and fish.

What eats rock crabs?

Humans are significant predators of these crabs. Because of their tasty meat, humans wish for the rock crabs for different dishes. Their other predators are fish, gulls, seabirds, and kelp bass.

Sea otters also use them as the primary food in their diet.

What does rock crab meat taste like

What does rock crabs meat taste like?

The taste of rock crab is delicious and similar to Dungeness crabs. Red rock crab meat is hard to extract because these crabs are slightly smaller.

The rock crabs in clear water have a sweet taste and delicate white meat.

Fishing and Cooking:

These crabs are the most common species of crabs in the world, and the fisherman caught them for commercial purposes.

The California rock crab fishery finds several types of rock crabs, like yellow, red, and brown. On average, this fishery caught over one million rock crabs annually.

In Florida, you will see stone crabs similar to rock crab, but only their claw is edible.

Crabs may be returned to Florida waters to regenerate their claws.

Rock crab legs have a delicious taste. Steaming the legs with beer and eating them with sauce will enhance their taste. Legs are well-flavoured, but the tender flesh is best for any taste. Tender should be prepared with a shell because of the flakiness of the meat.

Rock crabs nutritional information:

Rock crab meat is rich in nutritional content and positively affects health.

Only one cup of rock crab meat has 120 calories and 2g of fats and is very rich in sodium. It also has a little bit of iron and calcium.

Like other crabs, these crabs also have omega-3-polyunsaturated acids, which save us from heart diseases and inhibit aggressive behaviour.

How is rock crabs different from dungenese crabs

How is rock crabs different from Dungeness crabs?

The Dungeness crab is full of meat and has a sweet taste, but the rock crab is so delicate.

Red rock crab has black tips on their red body. On the other hand, Dungeness crabs have a purple hue with greyish-brown spots.

These crabs are more miniature than Dungeness crabs and have other physical differences.


The rock crabs are scavengers and also predators. They eat a variety of invertebrates, snails, and oysters. Many species of such crabs are present in the world, like yellow and brown rock crabs. Their life span is about 5 to 7 years, but under certain conditions, they can live more time.

Rock crab have delicious meat and are preferred as a favourite dish in California.

Leave a Comment