Snow Crab


Chionoecetes opilio

ALSO KNOWN AS Opilio, Opies

Alaska snow crabs are named for their delicious snow-white core. Their sweet and flaky meat is considered more delicate in flavour than king crabs’, and rich with many dietary benefits, including a low-fat source of protein.

Snow crabs have a hard rounded shell, four pairs of walking legs, and a pair of claws. They are brownish in colour with a lighter-toned underbelly. Their eyes are green or greenish-blue. Males and females can be distinguished by the shape of their abdominal flaps: on males this flap is triangular, whereas on females it is broadly rounded.

Only male crabs can be legally caught for commercial use. Commercial size males are usually older than 8 years old and weigh between 1 and 2 pounds. Female crab shells rarely grow larger than 3 inches wide as opposed to 6 inches wide seen in males. Sexually mature females can carry up to 100 000 eggs and hatch their young in the spring when there is plenty of food in the water column. Once the larvae have matured, they seek a suitable habitat, preferring soft, sandy or muddy bottoms, typically in water less than 650 feet deep. Snow crabs have a wide distribution and are found in the Japan Sea, south of Greenland and north of Maine, and off the coast of Alaska.

Our Alaska snow crabs are caught by commercial fisherman in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska. Fisherman use herring-, mackerel-, or squid-baited crab pots to harvest their snow crab by lowering the pots over silt and mud bottoms. After a couple days pass, the fishermen return to haul the pots back on board, empty them, and sort through the catch.

Snow crabs are generally harvested from January to April in the Eastern Bering Sea, but product is available year round.

Coldfish snow crabs are available for purchase in frozen clusters.