Photo of a Snow Crab Retrieved from


PredatorsPhoto of an Atlantic Cod. Retreived from on 19 Apr 2012.

Predators of the snow crab include Atlantic Cod, Pacific halibut, giant Pacific Octopi, harp seals, skates, other snow crabs (yes, snow crabs do engage in cannibalism), and the human population.


Snow crabs are vulnerable to a parasitic dinoflagellate known as Hematodinium.  This parasite gets into the hemolymph of the snow crab while it is in its molting stages, with no hard outer carapace for protection.  This causes the snow crab to change in color slightly and also creates a bitter taste in cooked leg meat.


Photo of barnacles. Retrieved from on 19 Apr 2012.Barnacles

Barnacles will attach to the carapace of snow crabs.  This does not harm the snow crab, but is beneficial for the barnacles as it gives them a mode of transportation.  They also attach to the crab for nutrition.  Barnacles filter the algae and oxygen out of the water when the snow crab moves.  To learn more about the barnacle, click here!

Human Impact

In Alaska and along the shore of Eastern Canada, the snow crab commercial industry is very important to the economy and the product is enjoyed by many individuals worldwide.  In order for the crabs to be legally hunted and sold, they need to be larger than 9.5 centimeters in carapace width.  This limits the fishable population to strictly the male gender.  Overharvesting of the snow crab population occurred in the year 1999.  Especially since then, strict laws have been put into effect in attempt to prevent the extinction of Chionoecetes opilio.  The maximum harvest weight was also cut back.  Due to this, the harvest level in 2011-2012 was raised by 64% to approximatelyMeasuring a snow crab.  Photo retrieved from and all credit given to on 19 Apr 2012 90 million pounds


As of today, the snow crab can be harvested sustainably by fisheries across the Northern oceans.  This is due to the strict laws of legal size and the limits that are put upon this industry.  There is always the possibility of overharvesting, which could result in lowered limits, or worse, extinction of the species.  With continual observation of this population, however, the population will be successfully maintained and economies will thrive (along with the bellies of many inhabitants of the world).


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Visit The Deadliest Catch website for more information on the snow crab fishing industry!