Habitat and migration


Larvae of Paralithodes camtschaticus can survival in shallow waters (<20m). (Marukawa 1933) And a well-developed animal bottom-community which larvae settled can successfully support a massive recruitment of the juvenile crab. With the availability of cover as cryptically living beneath rocks and stones and in crevices that one-year-old red king crabs can live well. In the second year podding behaviour can be seen. They migrate to deeper water (20-50 m) where they congregate in large, tightly packed groups after the first two years and often referred to as pods. (Powel 1974)

According to size, life history group or sex, adults of Paralithodes camtschaticus usually aggregate on sand or mud substrata. (Vinogradov 1969, Fukuhara 1985) In the period of spawning season, it occurs that extensive aggregations of both sexes. The regions of spawning aggregations can be easily found in shallow water where kelp occurs, because of the kelp may provide crabs with some protection for the females following moulting ecdysis and make them less vulnerable during mating. (Jewett and Onuf 1988)

  1. Fukuhara, F.M. 1985. Biology and fishery of south-eastern Bering Sea red king crab (Paralithodes camtschatica, Tilesius). Pp. 801-982, In: NOAA Processed Rep., 85-11.
  2. Jewett, S.C. & Onuf, C.P. 1988. Habitat suitability index models: Red king crab. U.S. Fish & Wildl. Ser. Biol. Rep., National Wetlands Research Center, Slidell. Louisiana, 82 (10.153), 34 p.
  3. Marukawa, H. 1933. Taraba-gani chosa [Biological and fishery research on the Japanese king crabParalithodes camtschatica (Tilesius)]. Sui Shi Ho [J. Imp. Fish. Exp. Sta., Tokyo], 4(37), 152 p. [In Japanese with English abstract].
  4. Powell, G.C. 1974. Gregarious king crabs. Sea Frontiers, 20(4): 206-211.
  5. Vinogradov, L.G. 1969. O mekahanizme vosproizvodstva zapasov Kamchatskogo kraba (Paralithodes camtschatica) v Okhotskom more u zapadnogo poberzhya Kamchatki [The mechanism of reproduction of the stock of the Kamchatka crab (Paralithodes camtschatica) in the Okhotsk Sea off the western coast of Kamchatka]. Trudy Vsesoyuznogo Nauchno-Issledovatel’skogo Instituta Morskogo Rybnogo Khozyaistva i Okeanografi [VNIRO], 65: 337-344. (F.R.B. Can. Trans. Ser. 1540).



The adult crabs have a mating-molting migration and a feeding migration. Part of the stock of the adult crabs migrates to shallow waters in spring in connection with hatching, mating and spawning. Then after a period of time, during summer and autumn they move to deeper waters. At last they over-wintering take place at depths below 200 m.


Fig. 12. Seasonal migration of Paralithodes camtschaticus: the mating-molting migration in the spring/summer period to various substrates with benthic communities principally composed of calcified prey organisms, and a subsequent feeding migration in winter/autumn to soft substrate where annelids occur (enlarged picture: juvenile red king crabs associated with kelp). From:NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet

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