Species and Habitat Outlines

Red Rock Crab

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Crustacea
Order: Decapoda
Family: Cancridae



Distribution: widespread and common in semi-protected bays and estuaries along B.C. coast; also in protected rocky areas associated with rocky headlands and outcrops.

Habitat: rock, gravel or kelp beds in bays or estuaries, or rocky areas where rocky headlands or outcrops provide some wave protection; lack gill straining apparatus required for living in muddy/sandy habitat; planktonic larvae dispersed by currents; juveniles remain in intertidal and shallow subtidal associated with macroalgae until 2nd summer; breeding occurs in inshore waters.

Tidal elevation: intertidal to 79 m subtidal depth.

Food: carnivore; barnacles, bivalves, smaller living crabs and dead fishes.

Predators: rockfish and other large fishes, octopus and marine mammals.


Must molt to grow; maximum width is 158 mm.


Too small for commercial harvest, but is taken in sport fishery.


Hart, J.F.L. 1982. Crabs and their relatives of British Columbia. B.C. Prov. Mus. Handb. 40: 206-207.

Knudsen, J.W. 1964. Observations of the reproductive cycles and ecology of the common Brachyura and crablike Anomura of Puget Sound. Pac. Sci. 28: 3-33.

Kozloff, E.N. 1983. Seashore life of the northern Pacific coast. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver: 370 p.

Morris, R.H., D.P. Abbott, and E.C. Haderlie. 1980. Intertidal invertebrates of California. Stanford Press, Stanford, Calif.: 607-608.

Trask, T. 1970. A description of laboratory-reared larvae of Cancer productus Randall (Decapoda, Brachyura) and a comparison to larvae of Cancer magister Dana. Crustaceana 18: 133-146.


For more information about red rock crab habitat utilization and life cycles - please click here

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