Louisiana Fisheries
Current NewsAbout UsBiological InfoManagement InfoHabitat Info
Louisiana Fisherman Professionalism ProgramAquaculture InfoLegal & Socio-Economic Issues
Fisheries & PeopleResources & PublicationsFisheries FAQsSearch
LSU AgCenter Louisiana Sea Grant Louisiana Fisheries Louisiana Fisheries

Home > Biological Info > Blue Crab

Biological Info: Blue Crab

Scientific Name:
Callinectes sapidus
Common Names:
Range & Habitat:
The blue crab is abundant along the North American coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. It is found most commonly in Louisiana waters; the lesser blue crab (Callinectes similis) is a smaller crab that is also found here but in fewer numbers.
Identification & Biology:

The blue crab is a decapod, which means it possesses ten appendages, of which four pairs are segmented walking legs. Its last pair of legs is paddle-shaped, permitting the crab to swim more actively than most other crab species. These legs, called the paddle fins, are flexible so that they can be rotated in a sculling action that allows the crab to propel itself through the water. The crab is capable of swimming at burst speeds of up to one meter per second.

The largest appendages are a pair of segmented arms ending in pincer-like claws, which the crab uses for defense and to grasp and crush prey. The carapace is the shell that covers and protects the crab. Eyes, mouth, and antennae are located at the front edge of the carapace.

Crabs have an outer hard shell called an exoskeleton. Unlike skin, the hard shell can't stretch to accommodate growth, so the crab must molt, or shed its shell, in order to grow. As the crab grows, the shedding process occurs again and again, as often as 25 times.

Food Value:
The mild delicate flavor of its meat makes the blue crab prized. They are harvested in hard-shelled and soft-shelled phases and both are popular with consumers.
More Info:

< Back to Main

Louisiana Fisheries Louisiana Sea Grant LSU AgCenter