Dungeness crab, also known as metacarcinus magister, or simply dungies if you’re on the dock, is a type of crab native to the nearshore waters of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, to Point Conception, north of Santa Barbara, California. Occasionally, they have also even been found as far south as Magdalena Bay in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Dungeness crab gets its name from the port of Dungeness located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, where they were harvested commercially for the first time. The crab is caught using pots resembling wide wire-mesh hockey pucks with two iron bars welded to the bottom circular part of the frame. These pots can weigh up to as much as 150 pounds, making handling them an exhaustive task.
Because of their size, Dungeness crabs have a high meat content. Their legs, claws, and shoulder meat are the prized parts. In terms of taste, they have a mild, slightly sweet, nutty flavor. The minimum size limit for dungies permissible for catch and harvest in California waters is 6.25 inches across the back of their shells. Some of the largest crabs can reach as long as 8 inches.
Due to their rich and satisfying flavor, Dungeness crab can be prepared in a variety of ways, ranging from steaming, boiling, baking, and even grilling (wrapped in foil). They are also used in a number of cuisines, making them a versatile and tasty ingredient.
Dungeness crabs inhabit seafloor areas with sandy and muddy bottoms or in eelgrass beds. They can be found living from the intertidal zone to depths of 750 feet, but are most abundant at depths above 295 feet. They have an average lifespan of 13 years, but males are often caught at around 4 years old. Mature Dungeness crabs molt once a year, generally during summer, while younger crabs under two years of age can molt as many times in a year.
Dungeness crab is considered to be one of the most integral and valuable seafood of California’s seafood industry. This is because catching and eating crab has been a holiday tradition in the Bay Area since as far as the late 1800s when they were first discovered. Their value goes beyond dollars and cents and is a cultural icon in California’s central and northern coastal communities. This is why it is commonly shared between friends and family during the holiday season.
Dungeness crab is the quintessential seafood of the Bay Area in California that has had a special place in their culture since the late 1800s when it was first discovered.
If you wish to know more about Dungeness crab and when is crab season in California in general, Safe Coast Seafoods is where you can get all information about Dungeness crab season and other seafood seasons. To learn more about Dungeness crab season, visit here.