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Metacarcinus magister   (Dana, 1852)

Dungeness crab

Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2100
This map was computer-generated and has not yet been reviewed.
Metacarcinus magister  AquaMaps  Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Metacarcinus magister
Picture by FAO

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | CoL | ITIS | WoRMS

Malacostraca | Decapoda | Cancridae

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Benthic; brackish; depth range 0 - 360 m (Ref. 865).  Temperate; 3°C - 19°C (Ref. 104779), preferred 9°C (Ref. 107945); 61°N - 23°N, 179°W - 110°W

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Introductions

Eastern Pacific: Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Magdalena Bay, Mexico. Subtropical to boreal.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?, range 10 - ? cm Max length : 22.5 cm CW male/unsexed; (Ref. 865); 16 cm CW (female); max. reported age: 10 years (Ref. 104779)

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Maximum length for females from Ref. 104779. Epibenthic in estuaries and nearshore environments (Ref. 104211). It is found on soft bottoms in very low intertidal areas to a depth of 360 meters (Ref. 865). Found on seagrasses (Refs. 104216, 106869). Juveniles inhabit and forage on estuaries, particularly in oyster reefs, oyster beds (Ref. 104211, 113901), and eelgrass (Ref. 104211).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Life cycle: The fertilized egg hatches into prezoeae larva and molts into zoea an hour after. The larvae undergo five zoeal stages before molting into megalopae. The megalopae molts into juvenile stage before further molting (at most 12 times) into adult stage (Ref. 104779). Mating behavior: Precopulatory courtship ritual is common (through olfactory and tactile cues); usually indirect sperm transfer (Ref. 833). Males locate premolt females through a pheremonal homing system. Male holds the female in an embrace for at most 7 days prior to the female's molting. An hour after molting, copulation occurs through insertion of male gonopods into the spermathecae of the female to deposit sperm (indirect sperm transfer). The female may then be embraced again for 2 days. Pre- and post-mating embraces are done to protect females from predation, aside from insuring mating success. Mating occurs in estuaries but spawning takes place offshore (Ref. 104779). Crabs can store and utilize sperm for at least 2 years. Eggs are fertilized as they pass through the spermathecae during extrusion (Ref. 104787).

Main reference References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Shirley, S.M., T.C. Shirley and S.D. Rice. 1987. (Ref. 8391)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 127697)

CITES status (Ref. 108899)

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial
FAO - Fisheries: landings, species profile | FishSource | Sea Around Us


More information


Internet sources

BHL | BOLD Systems | CISTI | DiscoverLife | FAO(Fisheries: species profile; publication : search) | GenBank (genome, nucleotide) | GloBI | Gomexsi | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | PubMed | Tree of Life | Wikipedia (Go, Search) | Zoological Record

Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 5.8 - 9.8, mean 7.8 (based on 87 cells).
Prior r = 0.57, 95% CL = 0.37 - 0.85, Based on 3 stock assessments.
Price category (Ref. 80766): Very high.