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Archived – Rock crab

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Rock crab (Cancer irroratus) is distributed along the Atlantic coast, from South Carolina to Labrador, from the intertidal zone to a depth of 575 meters. Rock crabs concentrate in shallow waters and seem to prefer sandy bottom, although they can be found on all types of substrate. They grow through the process of moulting where the hard outer shell is periodically shed; the moulting frequency slows once rock crabs become sexually mature. On average, female and male rock crabs mature at 57 and 75 mm carapace width, respectively. Mating occurs during late summer and fall, while the female carapace is still soft from moulting. Generally, female rock crabs extrude eggs soon after mating and carry the eggs beneath their abdomen for about 10 months. The hatching starts as early as mid-June and the pelagic larvae go through six stages and settle to the bottom by mid-September. Male rock crabs take about 6 years to reach commercial size and remain in the fishery for 1-2 years.

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