Metacarcinus magister (Dana, 1852) 

As Cancer magister: "One male specimen of the Cancroid Crab was obtained by a smelt-beam trawl from a depth of 15 m, off Kushiro, the Pacific coast of Hokkaido, on November 16, 1979. It was identified by Dr. T. SAKAI of the Carcinological Society of Japan as Cancer magister DANA."
As Cancer magister: "It prefers sandy bottoms and has been collected from the intertidal to 230 m, but it is not abundant in waters >90 m. ... [In the San Francisco Estuary] Cancer magister was common over a relatively wide range of salinities and temperatures; most individuals were collected from 15 psu to 32 psu and 9 to 20 degrees C (Figure 13)".
As Cancer magister: "Cancer magister larvae pass through the 6 planktonic stages over 105 to 125 days and are often carried far from the coast by currents after several larval stages."
As Cancer magister: Of the six cancer crabs captured in the San Francisco Estuary from 1980 to 1996, Metacarcinus magister was the most abundant, accounting for 51.7% of the cancer crabs. "Cancer magister supports a substantial commercial fishery and a smaller sport fishery in central California coastal waters."
In 3,971 bottom trawls taken between Cape Flattery, Washington and the U.S.-Mexico border, Metacarcinus magister was captured in 1189 trawls (29.9%). It was captured at latitudes of 34.5 to 48.3 degrees and at depths of 36 to 835 m. See attached pdf.
Metacarcinus magister: Lists "Age at Maturity:2-3 years", "Max Age:8-10 years", "Max Size: Males: 8.6 in (22 cm) CW; Females: 6.3 in (16 cm) CW", and "Fecundity: 0.5-2 million eggs per brood".
As Cancer magistger: "low salinities impaired the molting process in larvae of the closely related Dungeness crab" p 12.
As Cancer magister: "Larval development time in the Dungeness crab has been shown to be inversely related to water temperature (Poole 1966)" p 5.
As Cancer magister: According to Wicksten (2012a), old reports of Cancer magister from Santa Barbara, California and Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico are unconfirmed. However, the U.S. EPA EMAP survey (EPA, 1999) found C. magister in Long Beach Harbor in southern California in 1999.
Metacarcinus magister: Commercial, recreational and tribal landings of Dungeness crab in Puget Sound ranged from approximately 6 to 9 million pounds per season ( In comparison, Oregon commercial landings averaged 16.1 million pounds per season from 1977-1978 through 2012-2013 seasons, with a maximum commercial landing of 33.5 million pounds in the 2004-2005 season (
In the southeast Alaska Region, which includes SE Alaska and southern part of the Gulf of Alaska, the five-year average (2010/2011 to 2014/2015) of number of Dungeness crabs landed was 1,527,340 with a CPU of 3.4. CPU's in the 1985/1986 to 1996/1997 ranged from 3.9 to 6.7. In Area D (Yakut), 1995/1996 to 1999/2000 ranged from 2.2 to 2.6, with the fisheries closed from 2000 to 2014. (
As Cancer magister: In a trawl survey in Hecate Strait, British Columbia (North American Pacific Fjordland Ecoregion) at depths of 18.3 m to 146.3 m, Metacarcinus magister occurred in 14 trawls (13.21%). It was the most frequently captured decapod.
As Cancer magister: "While Dungeness crab stocks in Oregon, California, and Washington have never collapsed, several stocks in Alaska have. In the Alaskan fishery, Dungeness crab stocks have historically occurred in Southeast Alaska, Yakutat, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, and Kodiak; however, only the Southeast Alaska and Kodiak fisheries remain open. The other fisheries were closed due to collapses of the Dungeness crab stocks during the 1980s and 1990s. Possible causes of these collapses include sea otter predation, overfishing, and climatic changes (ADF&G 2006a; Orensanz et al. 1998). ... Throughout this report "collapse" is defined as a stock having declined by 90%. 10% of the stock remains."
EPA Consolidated Benthic Database: U.S. Pacific coast regional surveys. Decapods: Oregonian. Table presents Dominance Normalized Relative Abundance (DNRA) values for all decapod taxa reported from the EPA regional surveys conducted in the Oregonian ecoregion. Estuary and Ocean samples were analyzed separately, however, the higher of the two abundance classes is shown on the CBRAT abundance maps for that species. Total samples were 555 Estuary samples and 110 Ocean samples. All stations were less than 200 m.
Greg Jensen says that the abundance of Metacarcinus magister is "very rare" in the Aleutian ecoregion.
Gave an average time of hatch to settlement of 154 days in Alaska. An average duration of 115 days was reported for central California.
As Cancer magister: "subtidal to 230 m, but not abundant below 90 m; Tanaga Island (Aleutian Islands, Alaska) to Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo Co. (unpublished record) and rarely to Santa Barbara (unpublished record), but probably not Bahia Magdalena (Baja California) as reported. ... In California waters there appear to be five subpopulations, which show little or no mixing, centering in the following areas: (1) Avila/Morro Bay (San Luis Obispo Co.), (2) Monterey Bay, (3) San Francisco, (4) the region from Fort Bragg (Mendocino Co.) to Cape Mendocino (Humboldt Co.), and (5) the Eureka/Crescent City region, north of Cape Mendocino (Humboldt and Del Norte Cos.). The three southern areas now yield few crabs."
Metacarcinus magister (as Cancer magister): "Habitat - Sand bottoms in which the crab may bury itself leaving only eyes, antennules and antennae visible. Water for respiration is drawn into the gill cavity and the pubescence prevents the sand from entering the branchial cavity. These crabs move very quickly, running on the tips of the walking legs and almost swimming as a result of the vibrations of the last pair of legs. They may also be found in muddy areas, but sand and eelgrass seem to be the preferred habitat. ... Range - Tanaga Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to Magdalena Bay, Mexico; intertidal to 179 m. Distribution in British Columbia - Widespread in suitable areas".
As Cancer magister: San Francisco Estuary: "Cancer magister was common over a relatively wide range of salinities and temperatures; most individuals were collected from 15 psu to 32 psu and 9 to 20 degrees C (Figure 13)."
As Cancer magister: Reports a max. egg size of 462 microns and a mean brood size of 938,300 eggs with a maximum of 1,342,000 eggs. Has an average of 1 brood per year, with a max. of 1 per year. First brood is at 2 years at a carapace width of 108 mm; last brood is at 5 years.
Metacarcinus magister: "Dungeness crab larvae and adults have an optimal salinity range of 25-30 ppt and 15-36 ppt, respectively (Pauly et al. 1986b, Pauly et al. 1989, Emmett et al. 1991). ... Juvenile Dungeness crab are sensitive to higher temperatures, with an optimal temperature range of 10-14 degrees C, and mortality occurring at >20 degrees C (Pauly et al. 1986b, Emmett et al. 1991)."
As Cancer magister: "There is a very old record of two juveniles from Bahia Magdalena, Baja California, Mexico that has been questioned [Rathbun, 1930]".
As Cancer magister: "Most common subtidally on sandy bottoms and in eelgrass beds; occurs from the mid intertidal to 230 m (750 ft). Tiny juveniles can be extremely abundant in the intertidal zone, while larger juveniles tend to move up from subtidal channels into the intertidal during nighttime high tides to forage".
As Cancer magister: "Size: Males to 254 mm (10 in), but usually less than 190 mm (7.5 in). There is one old report of specimens measuring 330 mm (13 in)! Females to 182 mm (7.1 in)". [CW]
As Cancer magister: "Diet consists primarily of clams, but also feeds on smaller crustaceans and fish. Small juveniles feed to some extent on epiphytic diatoms".
"Some classifications now break this genus [Cancer] into several different ones. This decision was based on very few characters and is at odds with the molecular evidence, so is not adopted here."
As Cancer magister: "The juvenile specimens of C. magister taken at the Pribilof Islands may originate from reproducing populations on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula. ... In general, larvae hatched in the vicinity of Unimak Pass may be transported at times to the Pribilof Islands (ca. 400 km) in currents that flow slowly (ca. 1-5 cm/sec) northwest along the 100 m isobath near the shelf edge (Schumacher & Reed, 1983). ... Given the magnitude of the Kenai current which enters the southeastern Bering Sea through Unimak Pass after flowing from the vicinity of Prince William Sound (Schumacher & Reed, 1983), it is quite probable that range extensions given here for Pandalus danae and Cancer magister are based on long distance transport of larvae from established adult populations further south, rather than being attributable to local, reproducing populations at these range extensions."
As Cancer magister: It is unimportant commercially south of Monterey Bay.
In a survey from Cape Flattery, Washington (lat 48 degrees 10'N) to the U.S.-Mexico border (lat 32 degrees 30'N) at depths of 55 to 1280 m, Metacarcinus magister was found in 242 of 675 trawls at depths of 53 to 727 m. It was the most frequently captured of the 13 brachyuran crabs found in the survey.
"generally offshore on sandy bottoms; occasionally inshore, juveniles in bay and estuary nurseries; support an important fishery. ... suffers substantial brood mortality from the symbiotic nemertean egg predator, Carcinomemertes errans."
Schweitzer and Feldmann (2000; changed Cancer magister, Cancer gracilis, and Cancer anthonyi to the genus Metacarcinus. They changed Cancer antennarius, Cancer branneri, and Cancer jordani to the genus Romaleon. Additionally, they changed Cancer amphioetus and Cancer oregonensis to the genus Glebocarcinus. Cancer productus was not modified. These revised names are also used in Ng et al. (2008; Systema Brachyurorum: Part I. An annotated checklist of extant Brachyuran crabs of the world) and the SCAMIT (2008) list. However, Kuris et al. (2007) in the recent Lights Manual maintain the use of the genus Cancer for all these species in the NEP.
"The fishery blossomed early, and now the California harvest of this important marine resource occurs from Avila to the Oregon border. Dungeness crab populations off northern California, Oregon and Washington have produced landings that have fluctuated around a fairly stable long-term mean for more than 30 years."
Metacarcinus magister (= Cancer magister) has been found in Japan and more recently it has been reported from Massachusetts Bay, USA. It is not established in either of these regions.
Cancer magister: "The principal commercial crab species in the GOA are the king crabs (Paralithodes spp.), the tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi), and the Dungeness crab (Cancer magister)."
" ... low water to 50 fathoms (Garth 1969). 47.4-64.9 degrees F; mud, sand, gravel, stones, shells (Rathbun 1930a:223-227)."
Metacarcinus magister: "Only two specimens of M. magister have been found in the Atlantic Ocean, both in rather deep water in the Gulf of Maine, off Massachusetts. The first specimen was trapped on July 19, 2006 off Thatcher Island, Gloucester, in 82 m of water. The second specimen was captured a mile south of Magnolia, Essex County, in Massachusetts Bay, at a depth of 37 m (Prybot 8/21/09). Both specimens were adult males, and their occurrence on the Massachusetts coast is linked to the fishery in the Pacific Northwest that ships large numbers of live adult male Dungeness crabs to Boston markets."
"During the 15 year period 1962-1977, there was a general annual catch decline in SE Alaska and Yakutat reflecting a general decline of the stocks (NPFMC, 1976a) ... The strong 1978 year class apparently fuelled the fishery during the 1981-82 to 1983-84 seasons (Koeneman, 1985b). ... In Prince William Sound, effort `spiked' in 1978 and declined afterwards. ... The [Copper River] fishery collapsed after 1989; the Copper River district was closed in 1992 owing to low abundance (Fig. 3). ... In Cook Inlet, fishing effort grew rapidly between 1977 and 1981 ... Annual catch peaked in 1979 and has declined steadily ever since ... In Kodiak, effort rebounded after 1977, peaked in 1985, and has generally declined since."
"The largest contribution to the cumulative catch for the period 1969-1994 originated in SE Alaska/Yakutat (47%), followed by Kodiak (35%), Prince William Sound (10%) and Cook Inlet (7%). The catch from other areas is negligible."
"The central California stock declined in the late 1950s in accord with the entire U.S Dungeness fishery, but did not rebuild and has apparently collapsed."
As Cancer magister: "Megalopae often are abundant on the hydrozoan Velella velella, when they are scarce or absent elsewhere in the water column (Wickham 197%; Stevens and Armstrong 1985). Wickham (197%) suggested that V: velella aids in the movement and distribution of megalops and possibly provides a food source and protection from predation."
Authors reported an occurrence of this species (as Cancer magister) at a depth of 91 m off of the Oregon coast.
As Cancer magister: Authors list a pelagic larval duration of 120 days and one brood per year.
As Cancer magister: The authors list the carapace width of ovigerous females as 110-170 mm, 1 (2 in later instars) brood(s) per instar and 0.5 to 1.5 million eggs per brood.
Authors list an embryogenic development of 90-120 days, an egg diameter of 400-440 microns, a zoea I length of 2.5 mm, and a larval development (zoea I to megalopae) of 45-160 days.
Sloan, N.A., P.M. Bartier and W.C. Austin. 2001. Living Marine Legacy of Gwaii Haanas. II: Marine Invertebrate Baseline to 2000 and Invertebrate-related Management Issues. Parks Canada-Technical Reports in Ecosystem Science. Table summarizes the number of Brachyura records as museum specimens from the Gwaii Haanas region. Gwaii Haanas National Park is located on the southern end of Queen Charlette Island, B.C., Canada. Approximate park boundaries are 52 degrees 45' 42.2" N and 131 degrees 53' 12.3"W (centerpoint of island) at the northern end and 51 degrees 53' 34.8" N and 130 degrees 59'17.9" W at the southern end. This region fall within the North American Pacific Fjordland ecoregion. The Sloan2001_Brachyura_DataTable.pdf file is located at species->pdfs.
As Cancer magister: Grays Harbor Estuary: "At station 3, bottom temperatures ranged from 7 degrees C (winter) to 14 degrees C (summer), while at station 9 they ranged from 5 degrees to 18 degrees C."
As Cancer magister: SE Alaska: "Mean water temperature of areas occupied by females ranged from 3.1 degrees C during early March to 10.0 degrees C during late August (Fig. 6A). Males occupied areas with mean water temperatures ranging from 3.0 degrees C during early March to 9.5 degrees C in July (Fig. 6A). Individual crabs occupied water temperatures between 2.7 and 12.2 degrees C. ... Crabs in this study occupied areas with a relatively narrow range of temperatures (2.7 to 12.2 degrees C). Water temperatures in Fritz Cove never dropped to 1 degrees C, at which temperature adult female crabs held in the laboratory suffer 100% mortality after 35 d (Shirley et al. 1987)."
Generally offshore, found on sandy bottoms, and occasionally inshore.
Washington Department of Ecology- Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP). Decapods: Puget Trough /Georgia Basin. Values represent Dominant Normalized Relative Abundance (DNRA) classes for decapods from the WA Department of Ecology's Long-Term /Temporal Sediment Monitoring Program (PSEMP). A total of 1481 grab samples were taken throughout Puget Sound during annual cruises in the month of April from 1989 - present. Relative abundance for individual species was normalized using the total number of decapod taxa from all the grab samples. VA = very abundant; MA = moderately abundant; HM = high moderate; LM = low moderate; MR = moderately rare; VR = very rare.
"Carapace length 120.7 mm."
"Habitat and depth. Bays, harbors, sandy beaches, eelgrass flats, sandy areas of continental shelf, low intertidal zone to 230 m. Range. North and east of St. George I., Pribilof Is. to Pismo Beach, California. Old records from Santa Barbara, California and Magdalena Bay, Baja California are unconfirmed."
"The Dungeness crab is the most important commercial crab of the Pacific coast of the United States. Adult crabs usually are trapped off shore, but juveniles often can be found in bays and harbors at low tide. Very small juveniles and megalops larvae sometimes ride on medusae and the by-the-wind sailor Velella sp. (Wickham 1979)."