Species Profile




Blue King Crab (Paralithodes platypus)

Blue king crab are anomurans in the family Lithodidae which also includes the red king crab Paralithodes camtschaticus and golden or brown king crab Lithodes aequispinus in Alaska. Blue king crabs occur off Hokkaido in Japan, with disjunct populations occurring in the Sea of Okhotsk and along the Siberian coast to the Bering Straits. In North America, they are known from the Diomede Islands, Point Hope, outer Kotzebue Sound, King Island, and the outer parts of Norton Sound. In the remainder of the Bering Sea, they are found in the waters off St. Matthew Island and the Pribilof Islands. In more southerly areas as far as southeastern Alaska in the Gulf of Alaska, blue king crabs are found in widely-separated populations that are frequently associated with fjord-like bays. This disjunct, insular distribution of blue king crab relative to the similar but more broadly distributed red king crab is likely the result of post-glacial period increases in water temperature that have limited the distribution of this cold-water adapted species. Factors that may be directly responsible for limiting the distribution include the physiological requirements for reproduction, competition with the more warm-water adapted red king crab, exclusion by warm-water predators, or habitat requirements for settlement of larvae.