Snow crab, also known as queen crab, are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, preferring deep, cold-water conditions. Although found in snowy ocean environments, they get their name from the snow-white colour of their meat. As their name suggests, they are closely related to the larger king crab.
Snow crab usually have a brown to light red protective shell and a yellow or white abdomen. They have five pairs of spider-like legs; four pairs of walking legs and one pair of claws. Their eyes are green or greenish blue. Snow crab are prized for their sweet, delicate flavour.
Female snow crabs hatch their larvae in the spring when there is plenty of food in the water column, where the larvae live and feed on plankton. They will grow through three larval stages before becoming megalops, which look like miniature crabs with long tails. Megalops settle to the ocean floor, molt, and metamorphose into the first crab stage. From this point forward they look like tiny versions of the adult crabs, and will live on the ocean floor for the remainder of their lives. Snow crabs grow by regularly shedding their shell and growing a new, larger one. They are very vulnerable during this molting period until their new shell hardens. When they have reached sexual maturity they have a final, terminal molt, after which they never molt again. They can live for up to 20 years.
Snow Crab Trap
This fishery uses wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch snow crab. Traps are attached to lines and marked by floats on the surface. The traps attract crab with bait and capture them live.