The Different Types of Alaskan Crab

There are 10 different types of Alaskan crab. Seven of the ten crabs caught in Alaska are for commercial purposes (edible crabs). The remaining three are usually caught by accident and their numbers do not make up a significant portion of the overall catch.

The main species of crab from Alaska are the red king crab, blue king crab, golden king crab, Tanner crab, snow crab, horsehair crab, and Dungeness crab.

The scarlet king crab, grooved Tanner crab, and Triangle Tanner crab are the three Alaskan crabs which are caught incidentally. If you ever wanted to know what kind of crab do they catch on deadliest catch here they are:


Alaskan Red King Crab

Alaskan red king crabs can weigh up to 25 pounds and they get their name because of the color they turn when cooked. In the wild, they are a burgundy color but when cooked they turn red.

Alaskan Blue King Crab

The blue king crab is the largest species of king crabs from Alaska. It is also one of the biggest crabs in the entire world. They are brown in color but have hues of blue all over its shell. It is said that the meat of the blue king crab is a bit sweeter than that of the red king crab.

Blue King Crab from Alaska

Alaskan Golden King Crab

The golden king crab is smaller than the red king crab and blue king crab. They generally weigh no more than 8 pounds. They also have less meat than the aforementioned king crabs. However, many believe that the golden king crab’s meat is sweeter than that of the red king crab and blue king crab.

Alaskan Golden King Crab

Tanner Crab

Tanner crabs are also known as Bairdi crabs and they look similar to the snow crab (see below). Nonetheless, the meat of this crab is sweeter than the king crabs. They weigh about 2 to 4 pounds and are often sold under the name “snow crab”. They can live over a decade with most are fully matured within 5 years.

F/V Ace deckhand Robert Bernard talks with Trident Seafoods employees while putting Tanner crab into totes in Cordova, AK on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

Snow Crabs

These kinds of Alaskan crab have greenish to blueish eyes and their shells are brown on the upper side but take a lighter shade of brown on the lower side. They are smaller than the Tanner crab.

Horsehair Crab

These types of Alaskan crab have hard hairy shells. The hairs are actually soft spines and aren’t harmful.

Alaskan Hair Crab

Dungeness Crab

These types of crabs are known to be the sweetest of the different varieties of Alaskan crabs and as such are in high demand.

Alaska Scarlet King Crab

This type of Alaska king crab is smaller than the other varieties of king crabs found in Alaska. Because of their size and the fact that they are hard to find, they are not considered as commercially viable.

Scarlet King Crab

Grooved Tanner Crab

Grooved Tanner crabs are large, spider crabs with four pairs of slender, pointed walking legs and a pair of claws about the same size as their legs with two narrow, curved pincers.

Triangle Tanner Crab

There is not much data on these crabs. They are a member of the Chionoecetes genus which includes the Bairdi, snow crab, and grooved Tanner.

As you can see, the majority of crabs in Alaska are one of the many types of King crabs. However, there are other species of crab like the Tanner crab, snow crab, horsehair crab, and Dungeness crab which make up the bulk of commercial crab fishing in Alaska.