Red king crabs can be very large, sometimes reaching a carapace width of 28 centimeters (11 in) and a leg span of 1.8 meters (6 ft). It was named after the color it turns when it is cooked rather than the color of a living animal, which tends to be more burgundy.
The king crab is native to the Bering Sea, north Pacific Ocean, around the Kamchatka Peninsula and neighbouring Alaskan waters. It was introduced artificially by the Soviet Union into the Murmansk Fjord, Barents Sea, during the 1960s to provide new, valuable catch for Soviet fishermen.
It is the most coveted of the commercially-sold king crab species, and is the most expensive per unit weight. It is most commonly caught in the Bering Sea and Norton Sound, Alaska, and is particularly difficult to catch, but is nonetheless one of the most preferred crabs for consumption. The red king crabs are experiencing a steady decline in numbers in their native far east coastal waters for unclear reasons. Fishing controls set by the United States in the 1980s and 2000s have failed to stem the decline.
In the Barents Sea, however, it is an invasive species and its population is increasing tremendously. This is causing great concern to local environmentalists and local fishermen as the crab eats everything it comes across and is spreading very rapidly. Since its introduction it has spread westwards along the Norwegian coast and also northwards, having reached the island group of Svalbard. The species keeps on advancing southwards along the coast of Norway and some scientists think they are advancing at about 50 kilometres (31 mi) a year, though that could be an underestimate.
Despite these concerns the species is protected by diplomatic accords between Norway and Russia, and a bilateral fishing commission decides how to manage the stocks and imposes fishing quotas. West of the North Cape on Norway's northern tip, the Scandinavian country is allowed to manage its crab population itself. Only 259 Norwegian fishermen are allowed to catch it, and they see the king crab as a blessing, as it is an expensive delicacy.
|External identifiers for Paralithodes camtschaticus|
|Also found in: Wikispecies, ADW|
- ^ Jørgensen, Lis Lindal (21 November 2006). "Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet - Paralithodes camtschaticus". NOBANIS.org. http://www.nobanis.org/files/factsheets/Paralithodes_camtschaticus.pdf. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- ^ Jensen, Gregory (2004). "Order:Decapoda". In Hutchins, Michael. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 2. Detroit: Thomson-Gale. p. 208. ISBN 0-7876-5362-4.
- ^ "A meal to get your claws into". SeafoodfromNorway.com. 6 February 2006. http://www.seafoodfromnorway.com/page?id=120&key=11569. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- ^ Blau, S. Forrest (November 1997). "Alaska King Crabs". Alaska Department of Fish and Game. http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/notebook/shellfsh/kingcrab.php. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- ^ Bevanger, Lars (9 August 2006). "Norway fears giant crab invasion". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4775155.stm. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- ^ Kirby, Alex (29 September 2003). "King crabs march towards the Pole". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3149782.stm. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- ^ a b c Deshayes, Pierre-Henry (24 May 2006). "Barents Sea teems with 'Stalin's crabs'". Mail & Guardian. http://www.mg.co.za/article/2006-05-24-barents-sea-teems-with-stalins-crabs. Retrieved 20 February 2010.