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Dungeness Crab Cancer magister

 

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Dungeness Crab
credit: Kevin Cole/CCSA

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Description The Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister (formerly Cancer magister), is a species of crab that inhabits eelgrass beds and water bottoms on the west coast of North America. It typically grows to 20 cm (7.9 in) across the carapace and is a popular seafood. Its common name comes from the port of Dungeness, Washington.

The carapace width of mature Dungeness crabs may reach 25 centimetres (9.8 in) in some areas off the coast of Washington, but are typically under 20 centimetres (7.9 in). They are a popular delicacy, and are the most commercially important crab in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the western states generally. The annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival is held in Port Angeles each October.

Dungeness crabs have a wide, long, hard shell, which they must periodically moult to grow; this process is called ecdysis. They have five pairs of legs, which are similarly armoured, the foremost pair of which ends in claws that the crab uses both as defence and to tear apart large food items. The crab uses its smaller appendages to pass the food particles into its mouth. Once inside the crab's stomach, food is further digested by the "gastric mill", a collection of tooth-like structures. Metacarcinus magister prefers to eat clams, other crustaceans and small fish, but is also an effective scavenger. Dungeness crabs can also bury themselves completely in the sand if threatened.


Habitat Ocean or bay shallows.


Range Western Canada, Alaska, Northwest, California.


 

 

 

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