One of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean is one of the most targeted animals by fisheries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most fun and interesting facts about the red king crab, a huge crustacean!
Mature females stay in warmer water for a particular reason
The only time adult red king crabs move to shallower waters of the ocean is during the winter and early spring because then it’s mating season. The mature females move up during this time of the year and the males eagerly follow them. That’s because females need to stay in waters with temperatures that don’t go below 4 °C (39.2 °F) to ensure their eggs are capable of hatching.
They aren’t native to the cold waters of northern Europe
One of the most interesting facts about the red king crab is that it’s actually not native to the waters north and northeast of Europe. It’s there because it was introduced here by the Soviet government in the 1960s. The original plan was to transport these animals overland from the North Pacific and introduce them into the Barents Sea, a sea of the Arctic Ocean in the utmost northwestern part of Russia.
This plan turned into a fiasco as none of the crabs survived the long trip. A second attempt to fly these crabs to the region was more successful and they were introduced in the region near the Murmansk Fjord. By the late 1970s, the first individuals were spotted in the seas around Norway in Scandinavia.
These fascinating crabs aren’t really red
The spiny king crab is named as such because it has sharp spikes all over its body. This means that the red king crab is named as such because it’s red, right? Well, not exactly! The color of this particular type of crab as they appear in their natural habitat is actually burgundy, a dark reddish-purple. It’s only after they are cooked that they turn bright red, which means their actual name doesn’t refer to the living animal.
They can only be found in very cold water
These animals enjoy the cold waters in the northern seas of the world, even though the actual temperature they live in can range from anywhere between −1.8 to 12.8 °C (28.8 to 55.0 °F). The average temperature that adult red king crabs are found in is on the lower end of this and ranges between 3.2 to 5.5 °C (37.8 to 41.9 °F). Younger crabs are never found in waters with temperatures above 6 °C (43 °F).
They engage in a peculiar behavior called podding
They don’t exactly look this way, but red king crabs are actually extremely social animals. They engage in a particular type of behavior that is unique to them called “podding.” During their podding time, hundreds of red king crabs come together in social groups and spend time together. Seeing a mountain of these crabs is definitely an amazing sight to behold, that’s for sure!
Adult crabs live most of their lives in the depths of the ocean
The depths these creatures live in depends on their age. Juveniles tend to live in shallower waters and they move deeper and deeper and deeper in the ocean as they age. By the time they reach two years of age they can be found at depths of anywhere between 20 and 50 meters (66 and 64 feet). Adult crabs live in sandy and muddy areas at depths of over 200 meters (660 feet).
The red king crab has a couple of other names as well
The red king crab is the most famous member of the king crab family, a type of decapod crustacean. It’s part of the genus Paralithodes and is scientifically known as the “Paralithodes camtschaticus.” It’s also known as the “Kamchatka crab” or “Alaskan king crab,” referring to the places they live.