The red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is the most coveted of the commercially-sold king crab species, and is the most expensive per unit weight. It was named after the colour it turns when it is cooked rather than the colour of a living animal, which tends to be more burgundy.
Red king crabs can be very large, sometimes reaching a carapace width of 28 centimetres (11 in) and a leg span of 1.8 metres (6 ft). 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 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 an invasive species in the Barents Sea and there 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.
The 259 Norwegian fishermen who are allowed to catch it see the king crab as a blessing, as it is a high priced delicacy.
The red king crabs are experiencing a steady decline in numbers in their native far east coastal waters due to unclear reasons.
- ^ 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 (ed.). 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.