Different Types Of Crabs: Everything You Need To Know | Kidadl


Different Types Of Crabs: Everything You Need To Know

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Crabs are a type of crustacean that can be found in both saltwater and freshwater habitats.

They are known for having five pairs of legs, one of these bearing a pair of large claws at the end. There are many species of crabs, with around 6700 being discovered to date!

Out of these, there are quite a few varieties that are known for being edible, and which are quite tasty. Crabs are a very popular seafood delicacy, with species such as coconut crabs, stone crabs, rocks crabs, and spider crabs being enjoyed by seafood lovers all over the world. To know more about some common types of crabs, read on!

If you enjoyed this article, do check out our other pages on different types of Bulldogs and different types of tigers.

What is a crab?

Crabs are a type of crustacean, which refers to an invertebrate with a hard exoskeleton or shell covering its soft, fleshy body.

Crabs belong to the order Decapoda, containing creatures that have 10 legs. This is five pairs of legs. They are the largest members of the Arthropod family, which contains shrimps, lobsters, and prawns as well. These bottom feeders are known for their scuttling legs and large claws, which are present at the ends of their main pair of legs.

Crabs can either be found scuttling along the sandy beaches or along the bottom of the ocean, rivers, lakes, or ponds. They can either be saltwater or freshwater, with freshwater crabs making good pets and saltwater crabs being eaten more as a seafood delicacy all over the world.

Crabs are omnivorous in nature, and they mostly feed on algae, fungi, and bacteria. Asides from these, they also eat worms, mollusks, or any other organic matter present on the ocean beds.

Horseshoe crab shell on a sandy beach.

List Of Different Crab Types

There are a large number of crab varieties available, with over 6700 species being discovered to date! Here are some of the most common types of crab species:

King Crab: This group of large crabs are popular among seafood lovers for their size and sweet, delicate taste. The most popular is the Alaskan king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus), or red king crab, which can weigh up to 28.7 lb (13 kg)! These huge crabs are brown and can be found in the freezing North Pacific seas, and turn bright red when they are cooked. Though their bodies measure 11 in (27.9 cm) across and average, they can boast a leg span of almost 5 ft (1.5 m)! King crab meat is often called as the best crab meat for its unique and delicious taste.

Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus): True to their name, these popular crabs have a hard shell covering their body and legs, which is a rich blue color. Blue crabs can be found in the waters around the East Coast of the US, the Gulf of Mexico, Japan, and Europe, and are very delicious when cooked. Unlike many crabs which spend their lives scuttling along the bottom of the ocean, these blue crabs can swim, and have two paddle-like feet to help them do so. The appearance of blue crabs is also unique, with their shells tapering into two points at either side rather than being rounded at the edges.

Their distinct blue shells deepen into a beautiful red once cooked, with their tender meat described as being salty-sweet in taste. Consuming these crabs whole is normal and soft-shelled crabs is also popular, often sauteed or deep-fried while the crabs undergo molting and are growing a new shell.

Snow Crabs (Chionoecetes opilio): Found in the cold Bering Sea of Alaska and the North Atlantic ocean, this dark brown crab is known for its long, thick legs. Once cracked open, it contains tasty white meat with a delicate flavor. Snow crabs are comparatively difficult to capture, being found in very deep waters in the freezing ocean. This can cause a huge spike in prices due to high demand, and they can be quite costly.

Dungeness crab (Cancer magister): The Dungeness crab is large and has a beautiful purplish-brown shell. They are known to be one of the best crabs to consume, with their meat described as being soft, tender, and sweet, with salty hints of the ocean. Once they are cooked, their shells change to obtain a light pink or red sheen. As the shells of these crabs are quite hard, it is recommended to keep your crab crackers and shrimp forks on hand if you want to dig into its fabulous meat! They are named after a small fishing village in Washington state.

Japanese Spider Crab: Though this giant crab can look quite scary and intimidating, it is not aggressive at all. This cold water crab has especially long legs, akin to those of many spiders, which can grow up to 18 ft (5.5 m) in length! Spider crabs themselves are enormous, weighing around 42 lb (19.1 kg) in total.

Their meat is sweeter than that of other edible crabs, and due to their long legs, it may take a bit of digging to extract all of its tender insides.

Coconut Crab: These land-dwelling crabs are named after their fondness of climbing up coconut palms and cracking open the coconuts to eat, which has also gotten them the name palm thief! Coconut crabs are a type of hermit crab and have been said to taste like a cross between lobster and crab. Peculiarly, if you happen to eat a coconut crab while visiting some Pacific Islands, you will find that they might have a slight taste of coconut! Coconut crabs live for around 50-60 years of age, and are known as being the largest living arthropod in the world, not reaching their full size until they are quite old! Besides coconut, they also feed on fruits, nuts, and meat.

Horseshoe Crab: Though not a true variety of crab, the horseshoe crab is a type of water arthropod that can be found living in the shallow coastal waters of the Atlantic along from Nova Scotia to the Yucatan, and the Eastern Pacific Ocean near Japan and the Philippines. They have a large, rounded shell that covers their bodies, and a long tail that sticks out from the back. They are rarely eaten as they have a very low meat content.

Horsehair Crab: Popular in Japanese cuisine, these edible crabs are a muddy brown color with raised orange or light brown dots on them, giving them a 'hairy' appearance. They are found around Alaska and northern Japan, in colder waters. They are one of the best-tasting crabs around, with their sweet meat being prized as a delicacy. They are usually cooked in salty water, and the amount of meat procured from a single medium crab is quite satisfying.

Hermit Crab: Hermit crabs consist of both marine as well as land-dwelling crabs. They are not a true species of crab and are more related to lobsters. Unlike other crabs, hermit crabs have soft bodies due to their lack of ability to grow a hard exoskeleton. They often use shells left behind by larger snails and keep changing shells are they grow. Though hermit crabs are edible, due to their small size it is better to leave them be.

Peekytoe crab/Atlantic rock crab (Cancer irroratus): These brown rock crabs can be found dwelling in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Also known as the Atlantic rock crab, they are popular in Europe for their sweet and delicate flavor. These rock crabs are medium in size and have smaller claws than other popular crab varieties such as the Florida stone crab.

Southern European Crab: A bit different from other crabs on this list, the Southern European crab is a type of crab that can be found in the lakes and rivers of Italy, Greece, and the Balkans, being freshwater in nature. It is quite small compared to other larger marine varieties, being only around 2 in (5 cm) in size. They have made their way to North America as an invasive species, and have been absorbed into the local cuisine. These crabs are popularly eaten boiled.

Stone crab (Menippe mercenaria): Stone crabs are small, reddish-brown crabs that are prized for their claw meat. They are usually found in Florida. Stone crab meat is succulent and has a firm texture, which can be extracted by cracking open their hard claws. An interesting fact about these crabs is that they can grow back lost claws within 18 months, which is why fishermen usually pluck off one claw on capture before tossing them back into the ocean. The other claw is left on so that stone claw individuals can defend themselves.

Brown Crab: The brown crab is one of the most popular species of edible crab in the United Kingdom. They have brown, oval bodies with the edges looking similar to pressed-down pie crusts. When cooked, their brown shell turns lighter in color. The taste and texture of the meat usually depend on the sex of the crab, with the meat of the female being rich and brown, while that of males is white and has a sweeter tinge.

How are they different from each other?

Crab species differ from each other in appearance, mainly in size and color. There are freshwater, saltwater, and terrestrial crabs, all of which live in different surroundings.

Saltwater crabs are more suited for cooking as they are typically larger, whereas freshwater crabs make good pets for aquarium lovers.

Crabs can differ in taste as well, with the texture and level of sweetness varying depending on their size and living environments.

What types of crabs are edible?

Many types of larger crabs are considered a delicacy and are eaten either steamed, boiled, stewed, or fried.

Crabs are described to have soft, tender meat which has a slightly sweet and salty taste. Depending on species to species, the taste can vary. The legs and claws of crabs are considered tastier than the body, with those of species such as the Alaskan king crab, Japanese spider crab, and snow crabs being described as tasting heavenly.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for different types of crabs then why not take a look at different types of turtles, or king crab facts.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

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