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California king crab

Paralithodes californiensis

Today's Research for Tomorrow's Oceans

Species Type:


Common Name(s):

California king crab


These crabs can grow to be 2-3 pounds (0.91-1.36 kilograms) each and can reach 6 inches (15 centimeters) across in length.


Prowling the ocean floor, California king crabs will eat sea stars, crabs, and other crustaceans. When they're unable to find fresh food, these crabs will munch on leftover scraps from someone else's meal or dead animals sinking down from above.

Range & Habitat:

Preferring the floor of the Pacific ocean, California king crabs will live at depths of 476-985 feet (145-300 meters).


California king crabs are able to live in a variety of environments because of their ability to adjust to changing water temperatures. Most prominent in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of California, these crabs will form pods together and travel as one, similar to a school of fish. As they mature, they’ll move together into the deeper ocean, only returning to shallow waters when it’s time to hatch their eggs. Female kings crabs breed and reproduce once a year, yielding anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 eggs at a time.