Scarlett King Crab

Lithodes couesi

South Coast (Point Dume to Mexico border) Flakey fish Shellfish Wild caught

Kathy Marcks Hardesty, centralcoastcritic.com

The Science

Forms pods, piles of 1000s of individuals that can be several feet high; This behavior is thought to be defense against predators  

The Fishery

Traps and bottom trawls negatively impact the ocean floor as they are dragged by the ships that carry them

The Seafood

Domoic acid, a product of harmful algal blooms, can be found in the viscera (guts) of crabs during blooms

The Science

Drew Talley, CA Sea Grant

Taxonomic description

  • One of the larger species of crab, with carapace (shell) length of up to 28 cm (11 in); leg span of 1.5 m (5 ft) [1]
  • Bright red, or scarlet, carapace
  • Breathes through gills and has blue-colored blood due to hemocyanin, blood pigment that contains copper [2]

Distribution

  • Found from the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, southward along the eastern Pacific slope to San Diego [4]

Life history

  • King crabs can survive 20 to 30 years in the wild [2]; Reaches sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years old [2]
  • Mating occurs once a year during spring immediately or soon after the female has molted [5]
  • Females carry eggs under their broad abdomen for 12 months, after which small larvae emerge from the eggs [2]

Habitat

  • Lives on the seafloor 200 to 300 meter (600-900 ft) depths in the ocean [2]
  • Mainly feeds on mollusks and echinoderms; also eats some planktonic organisms [2]
  • Predators include Halibut, Pacific Cod, as well as Sea Otters and even Octopi [6]

The Fishery

Theresa Talley, CA Sea Grant

Seasonal availability

  • Available year round

Managing authority

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and covered by NOAA Fisheries and Pacific Fisheries Management Council due to incidental catch of this crab in the Federal Groundfish Fishery [7]
  • Incidentally caught in deepwater traps for sablefish (Federal Groundfish Fishery) or other crabs (State fisheries)
  • Covered by the Marine Life Management Act’s Emerging Fisheries Program [8]

Gear type

  •     Several trap designs are used in the rock crab fishery. The most popular is a single chamber, rectangular trap of two-by-four- or two-by-two-in. welded wire mesh [10]

Status of the fishery

  • No fishery designated specifically for this species, so little to no information on stock sizes, recruitment rates, effects of oceanographic regimes on this species [11]
  • No conservation concerns known for this species, but fishing pressure and global warming are thought to have reduced the population size of the related Alaskan king crab [9]

Potential ecosystem impacts

  • Minimal impacts when the management strategy includes the harvest of crabs that are above reproductive size of 4.25 inches; and includes trap escape rings of 3.25 inch diameter [11]

The Seafood

saltydogboatingnews.com

Edible portions

  • Legs, muscle (meat) inside body walls; whole body may be used in broth and soup [1]

Description of meat

  • Meat is soft, flaky, white, delicate, and sweet-tasting

Culinary uses

  • Available live; Cooking instructions at reference [12]
  • Most often served by itself with a side of butter; can be used in pasta, crab-cake, sushi, etc.

Nutritional information 

  • Nutritional information for Scarlet King crab is displayed [13]

Toxicity report

  • Domoic acid, a product of harmful algal blooms, can be found in the viscera (guts) of crabs during blooms; avoid eating during periods of bloom, remove viscera before cooking, and/or check for warnings [3]; this species is found in generally deeper waters reducing risk of exposure to blooms

Seasonal availability

  • Available year round 

References

[1] Alaska Sealife Center. 2017. Red King Crab.. Web. 30 May 2017. <http://www.alaskasealife.org/aslc_resident_species/46>.

[2]  Kato, S., W. Lee, S. Salapare. Guide to underutilized species of California. 83rd ed. Vol. 01. Tiburon: Tiburon Laboratory, 1983. Print.

[3] Shuman, C.. Health Advisories and Closures for California Finfish, Shellfish and Crustaceans. Health Advisories and Closures for California Finfish, Shellfish and Crustaceans. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 16 May 2017. Web. 30 May 2017. https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

[4] Reuter, R. F. Protecting Conserving Managing Marine Resources in Alaska. Golden King Crab Fact Sheet (n.d.): n. pag. NOAA Fisheris Services and Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 2017. Web. 30 May 2017.

https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Education/factsheets/10_gkc_fs.pdf.

[5] Luchsinger, S.. "Reproduction and Lifecycle." Red King Crab. Jackson and Tull, 27 Apr. 2007. Web. 09 May 2017. <http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2007/luchsing_sara/reproduction_and_life....

[6] "Alaskan Seafood." Alaskan King Crab Co. — All About King Crab. Trust E Certified Privacy, 2011. Web. 30 May 2017. <https://www.alaskankingcrab.com/pages/king-crab>.

[7] Acific. "PACIFIC COAST GROUNDFISH FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN." Pacific Coast Groundfish Plan (2016): 84+. GF_FMP_Final. Pacific Fishery Management Council, Aug. 2016. Web. 30 May 2017.  <http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/GF_FMP_FinalThruA27-Aug2016.pdf>.

[8] Shuman, Craig, Dr. "Data-Poor Fisheries Management." California Department of Fish and Wildlife. CDFW, 2010. Web. 30 May 2017. https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Data-Poor-Fisheries

[9] Dfg.webmaster@alaska.gov. "Commercial Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish and Game." Commercial Fisheries. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 2017. Web. 30 May 2017 http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingCommercial.main

[10] California Department of Fish and Game. "Rock Crabs." Annual Status of the Fisheries Report. California Department of Fish and Game, Dec. 2001. Web. 30 May 2017. https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34395&inline

[11] California Department of Fish and Game. "Rock Crabs: History of the Fisheries." California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report. California Department of Fish and Game, Dec. 2001. Web. 30 May 2017. https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34335&inline

[12] Stradley, Linda. "How to Cook Perfect King Crab Legs, Whats Cooking America." What's Cooking America. N.p., 19 May 2017. Web. 30 May 2017.  https://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/KingCrab.htm

[13] Scarlett King Crab,Web. Nutritionvalue.org. Accessed: 21 September 2017.