Video Series: Puget Sound King Crab

It’s hard to get work done when the Puget Sound King Crab is around. You never know what funny antics they will get up to when you’re not looking! Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post for a link to our weekly colouring page!


Fun facts about Puget Sound King Crabs:

Are Puget Sound King Crabs real crabs?

Certainly not! Just like the hermit crabs we shared with you a few weeks ago, the Puget Sound King Crab, like all king crabs, belong to a group of ‘crab-like’ crustaceans called the ‘Anomurans’. The name Anomura is Latin for differently-tailed, in reference to the strange shape that their abdomens often take.

Fascinatingly, if you take a close look at the abdomen of the Puget Sound King Crab, you can see that it curves ever so slightly to the left. Evolutionary biologists have used this as evidence to support their claim that king crabs have ancestors that were very similar to our modern day hermit crabs. Hermit crabs have abdomens that also curve to the left in order to fit into the spiral-shaped shells that they use as shelter.


What do Puget Sound King Crabs eat?

As Puget Sound King Crabs are big, they are capable of subduing and eating a wide range of animals. Puget Sound King Crabs favor echinoderms, including brittle stars, sea stars, and sea urchins. Echinoderms are full of calcium, which Puget Sound King Crabs need to eat in order to keep their shells thick and strong. All crabs routinely molt their exoskeleton in order to grow, if they don’t get enough calcium in their diet, they may not be able to build up their shells and may die!

We have to work very hard at the Discovery Passage Aquarium in order to meet the specific dietary requirements of the Puget Sound King Crab!

Puget Sound King Crabs are also unique in that they are one of the only known predators of the Sunflower Sea Star. Other predators include larger Sunflower Sea Stars (they are cannibals!) and the Morning Sun Star.

How large do Puget Sound King Crabs grow?


The carapace, or back shell of Puget Sound King Crabs have been recorded as large as 30 centimetres across and this doesn’t include the legs! To say these animals are huge is an understatement. At the Discovery Passage Aquarium, we are only ever capable of featuring juveniles of this species, as fully grown adults simply do not fit in our exhibits!

Are Puget Sound King Crabs Dangerous?

Despite their appearance, these crabs are gentle giants. When approached by scuba divers, Puget Sound King Crabs almost ignore them entirely. However, those claws are incredibly powerful, and are designed to crush objects similar in size to human fingers. Steer clear and keep your hands to yourself!


Are Puget Sound King Crabs Rare?

Overall, yes this species is a particularly rare sight and makes a very exciting encounter for scuba divers! During the springtime, Puget Sound King Crabs congregate in groups of 5-10 in order to molt their shells for the season. The exact purpose of these gatherings is unknown, but is hypothesized to have something to do with mating and reproduction. Female crabs are only able to mate when their shells are soft, just after molting.

Puget Sound King Crabs are also long lived, and take 7 whole years to mature. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife lists them as protected and prohibits the fishing of this species. Very little is known about the life history of these incredible animals, and the Discovery Passage Aquarium suggests that if you ever encounter one of these crabs, you leave them be (and maybe even keep where you found it a secret)!


Weekly Video Series Activities!

This week we have a colouring page drawn specifically for this week! You can find the Puget Sound King Crab colouring page at the link below. Send us your completed colouring page and win a day pass to the Aquarium for when we re-open!

Send us your completed colouring page by email at:

Or tag us in your Instagram Post: @DPAquarium #DPAquarium

Or send it to us in a message on Facebook: DiscoveryPassageAquarium

Be sure to do so before 10:00AM, Monday, May 4th so we can feature you on our Monday social media posts!

Click here for the colouring sheet!

Click here to learn about Puget Sound King Crab shells!

Click here to learn about Bay Pipefish!

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