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Red rock crab
Red rock crab
Crab Identification - Rock Crab

 

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Rock Crab

Green Crab | Kelp Crab | Rock Crab

 Rock Crab

Red rock crab - Oregon’s native

Red rock crabs (Cancer productus) are native to Oregon. They are often called “Japanese Crab”; a misnomer that may cause worry among recreational crabbers.

Red rock crabs are in fact a native species found in the fossil record as well as in Native American middens.

They are an important component of Oregon estuaries and nearshore areas, and even function as a steward to the estuary by predating on invasive species such as green crab (Carcinus maenas).

Crab identification

Red rock crab
Red rock crab
Red rock crab habitat

As the name implies red rock crab prefer the harder substrate habitats such as rocks, pilings, and other structure.

Red rock crab prefer higher salinities than Dungeness crab and therefore are usually found in larger estuaries, close to the ocean. They are most common in Coos, Yaquina, and Tillamook.

Red rock crab pair
Red rock crab
juvenile red rock crab
Red rock crab juvenile

Colorful juveniles

As juveniles, red rock crab can be found in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

juvenile red rock crab
Red rock crab juvenile
juvenile red rock crab
Red rock crab juvenile
Juvenile red rock crab
Red rock crab juvenile

The last crab an invasive will meet

Red rock crab are significant predators on green crab. The two species rarely exist in the same habitats because of the aggressive nature of the native red rock and Dungeness.

Green crab in Oregon have likely been confined to a very limited habitat (shallow areas of upper estuary) because of the presence of red rock crab.

red and green
Red rock crab

Tidepool crabs

As a different method of crabbing, red rock crab can also be found in tidepools. Look for them near protective rock structure in the lower estuary and in nearshore areas.

tidepool crab
Red rock crab

A similar relative

The Pacific rock crab (Cancer antennarius) inhabits similar habitats as the red rock crab, however is more often found in the nearshore ocean.

Occasionally, these crab are caught in the bay.

They are easily discerned from red rock crab by their spotted undersides, brown/ purple color, and more haired legs. It’s species name “antennarius” is Latin meaning “antennae” this refers to the noticeable larger antennae of this species when compared to other cancer crabs.

pacific rock crab
Pacific rock crab

red rock vs pacific rock

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