The rostrum of this small
majid crab consists of 2 flattened processes which diverge from the
The carapace is longer than wide. It has a prominent, sharp
tooth near the middle of the carapace, and another wide, flattened
projection anterior to the middle. The dorsal surface of the
has tubercles. The distance between the eyes is about 1/2 the
width. The dorsal surface of the merus of the cheliped has a
ridge (photo) in males, but
less distinct in females
Carapace width to 4 cm in
males, 2.8 cm in females. Highly variable in color; often
yellow, or red but sometimes white, orange, pink, or blue.
legs often have light-colored bands. The chelae are bright
the end, with orange or red (occasionally white) tips (photo).
Pugettia gracilis Dana, 1851
Common name(s): Graceful kelp crab,
Kelp crab, Spider crab,
Graceful rock crab, Slender kelp crab
quadridens var gracilis
Brachyura (true crabs)
|A small Pugettia gracilis. Carapace
width about 2.5 cm
|(Photo by: Dave Cowles,
How to Distinguish from
Similar Species: Pugettia
richii (mostly on the open coast) has a narrower
tooth, plus does not have a distinct ridge of tubercles on the merus of
the cheliped and does not have the orange and blue tips on the chelae.
has a longer rostrum,
about half the length of the carapace, consisting of 2 spinelike
instead of flattened ones. It also decorates itself, which
usually does not do. Cancer gracilis is a
cancer crab. Pugettia
producta grows much larger and has a smooth dorsal
Attu Island (Aleutian
Islands, Alaska) to Monterey Bay, CA. Common in Monterey Bay.
Low intertidal (on rocky
shores) to 140 m. Young are often among eelgrass.
Eelgrass and kelp; both on
outer coast and on protected shores. Also on pilings in
on the legs may help this crab hang onto the kelp and avoid being swept
off. This crab does not usually decorate itself much, but it
so occasionally. Predators include halibut, clingfish,
and woolly sculpin. During mating, the male lies on its back
the female stands above, facing him. Ovigerous females have
found through most of the year in Puget Sound. Females have
6200 to 13,000 eggs per brood. The long legs of this crab are
agile, and they can reach far above and behind them for defense.
and Fairbanks, 1966
and Carlton, 1975
and Snook, 1955
et al., 1980
and O'Clair, 1998
et al., 1985
Lutts, Donald Jr., 1960. Laboratory culture methods
larval stages of Pugettia
(Dana). Masters thesis, Walla Walla College. 37 pp.
General Notes and
Observations: Locations, abundances,
A female Pugettia gracilis (one rostral horn is
width about 2.5 cm
The merus of the cheliped has a distinct ridge (in males), with teeth,
on its dorsal surface. This is a male. See the
for another view.
In this view of a male the ridge on the merus of the cheliped (lighter
colored in the photo above) can be clearly seen.
In females such as this individual, the ridge on the merus is more
The chelae are blue near the end, with orange or white tips.
|The abdomen of females, as in this individual, is very
||This female (same as the one to the left) is carrying
they carry more eggs than this.
Note that the females carry their eggs attached to their uropods, is
is characteristic of most members of suborder Pleocyemata.
don't have pleopods except for the first pair which is used in
Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2005): Created original page
Edited by Dave Cowles 2006-