- Oval-shaped, broad, hard shell
- Yellow, orange, or yellowish-brown body, with large black-tipped pincers on the claws
- Large, smooth claws like rock crabs. But unlike rock crabs, no red spotting on underbelly
- Juveniles: tend to be darker than adults
- Humboldt Bay, California to Bahia Magdalena, Baja California
- Rare north of Point Conception
- From intertidal depths to 430 feet, but prefer 60-180 feet
- Mainly live in sandy habitat
- Live in bays, estuaries, sloughs
- Rock crab females mate soon after molting when their shells are still soft
- Females hold eggs on pleopods (back flap under abdomen) where they are fertilized
- Eggs can be fertilized up to a year after mating; female holds onto spermatophore from mating
- Female holds and protects eggs on her abdomen for a period of weeks before hatching
- Echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers), snails, and clams
- Juveniles eaten by octopus and sand stars
- Adult rock crabs eaten by southern sea otters, scorpionfish, cabezon, barred sand bass, and several species of rockfish
- They are also called Yellow Rock Crab.
- Yellow crab is the most commonly fished crab in southern California. They comprise 70-95% of the crab fishery in southern California.
- Rock crabs can molt up to 12 times.
Sources: pierfishing.com; Encyclopedia of Life; iNaturalist; California Sea Grant; Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (Pacific Southwest); Ocean Protection Council
Photo: David R. Andrew