• Scientific Name:                       Cancer magister


  • Habitat:  Locally these crabs are found from subtidal waters out to offshore waters hundreds of feet deep. There are many "dungies"  inside SF Bay but the bay is closed to crab fishing. 


  • Diet: Dungeness crabs foraging behavior coincides with their habitat. These crabs scavenge along the sea floor for organisms that live partly or completely buried in the sand. They are carnivores, and their diet can include shrimp, mussels, small crabs, clams, dead stuff and worms.


  • Size: It typically grows to about 7.9 in. But crabs up to 9 inches have been reported


  • Range:  Found in coastal waters from Santa Barbara, California, to the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. Dungeness crab probably inhabit all estuaries from Morro Bay, California to Puget Sound, Washington. Several important juvenile crab production estuaries are Willapa Bay,  Grays Harbor in Washington state, and SF Bay.



Dungeness Crab

(fall - summer)


The Meat:

Awesome! I figure this is probably the one seafood item I don't need to describe beyond simple adjectives.

2010 - present

2010 - present

Crabs are caught by means of crab traps. It is considered a model of sustainability because it is tightly regulated, catered to the small boat fleet, and crab boats only take male crabs—ensuring that there will always be egg producers crawling around out there.


The Dungeness crab fishery is the most important fishery (crabbery?) in this area.  There are lots of guys out there making house payments and putting their kids through school on dungeness crabs.  And for young fishermen it's a sort of holy grail.  Pinch pennies, save your money and one day you too can be a crab fisherman.  The average price for a low-end crab permit is 50-60,000 dollars.  Another 35-40,000 for a decent boat, another 80,000 for the pots, ropes, bait cups, bags, etc and bing-bang-boom you've got yourself a career.  Now all you have to do is maintain your boat, your back, your gear, pay your crew and oh yeah... catch crabs.  Almost forgot that part. 


In any event, there's a lot of money to be made as a crabber.  But if anyone told you it was easy they were either insane or lying.  Crabbers earn every penny.  And if I'm a bit bitter at the price and the miseries of crabonomics from my end of the biz, I don't blame the fishermen.  They should be the ones reaping the rewards.

Gear and fishery info:

Given the recent demoic acid drama your best bet is to enjoy your crab, but not the "butter" or guts. Beyond that, crabs are considered a very healthy choice.  They are lean source of healthy protein are high in B vitamins etc. Crab meat is high in cholesterol.  The daily recommended amount is about 300 milligrams per day and a 3 ounce serving of dungeness crab has 65 milligrams cholesterol.  But there is very little saturated fat in crab meat so it isn't like eating a friggin Big Mac or a donut or anything.

Health concerns:

Dungeness crabs reach sexual maturity at 2 years, live to 12 years and have been recorded up to 9 inches and 3 pounds.  

Fish Nerdism 101:

Recreationally speaking dungeness crabs can be caught from surf board, kayak, and by casting snares from shore (Check our webstore, I'm an ace snare maker!) everywhere but inside SF Bay, where they're protected.  I learned to make crab snares from that great fisherman of the bay, Champion de la Banana, so if you want to make me happy order snares from me, and then go out and catch your own crabs.  The fewer dungies I have to provide the happier I am (I know I said this already) and really my snares are a steal at 2 for 20 dollars.  Catch 3 crabs and you've already beaten the wholesaler at the dock, not to mention the retailer!


Ok, I'm done kvetching.  In truth I really do love this fishery, and yes, someday I hope to pinch my pennies (or find an investor) and own a crab boat — there I said it... awful as it is to admit.  

Parting Shots