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Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab on Wikipedia:

Dungeness crab Dungeness crab measuring 17 cm (6.7 in) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Arthropoda Class: Malacostraca Order: Decapoda Infraorder: Brachyura Superfamily: Cancroidea Family: Cancridae Genus: Metacarcinus Species: M. magister Binomial name Metacarcinus magister (Dana, 1852) [1] Synonyms

Cancer magister Dana, 1852 [1]

The Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister (formerly Cancer magister), is a species of crab that inhabits West Coast eelgrass beds and water bottoms from Alaska's Aleutian Islands to Santa Cruz, California.[2] They are named after Dungeness, Washington,[2] which is located approximately five miles north of Sequim and 15 miles east of Port Angeles. Its (former) binomial name, Cancer magister, simply means ``master crab`` in Latin.

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Description

They measure as much as 25 centimetres (9.8 in) in some areas off the coast of Washington, but typically are under 20 centimetres (7.9 in).[3] They are a popular delicacy, and are the most commercially important crab in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, as well as the western states generally.[4] The annual Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival is held in Port Angeles each October.[5]

Close-up of the face. The two eyes sit on eyestalks, with two antennules on either side of the rostrum (center, above the mouth).

Dungeness crabs have a wide, long, hard shell, which they must periodically molt to grow; this process is called ecdysis. They have five pairs of legs, which are similarly armored, the foremost pair of which ends in claws that the crab uses both as defense and to tear apart large food items. The crab uses its smaller appendages to pass the food particles into its mouth. Once inside the crab's stomach, food is further digested by the ``gastric mill``, a collection of tooth-like structures. Cancer magister prefers to eat clams, other crustaceans and small fish, but is also an effective scavenger. Dungeness crabs can also bury themselves completely in the sand if threatened.

Males are attracted to potential mates by pheromones present in the urine of female Dungeness crabs. Upon locating an available female, the male initiates a protective pre-mating embrace that lasts for several days. In this embrace, the female is tucked underneath the male, oriented such that their abdomens touch and their heads face each other. Mating occurs only after the female has molted, and the female signals her readiness to molt by urinating on or near the antennae of the male. The female extrudes the eggs from her body several months later; however, they remain attached under her abdomen for three to five months until they hatch. Young crabs are free-swimming after hatching, and go through five larval stages before reaching maturity after about ten moults or two years.

The safest place to hold the Dungeness crab is its back. Although the hind part of the crab is commonly used to pick up the crab, their claws can sometimes reach the holder's hand.

Dungeness crab have recently been found in the Atlantic Ocean, far from their known range, raising concern about their possible effects on the local wildlife.[6]

Conservation

Seafood Watch has given it a Sustainable seafood rating of 'Best Choice'.[7]

Cookery

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Dungeness crabs can typically be purchased either live or pre-cooked. Larger crabs are valued for the higher meat to shell ratio. Live crabs are cooked simply by steaming for 15–18 minutes, or by boiling for approximately 10 minutes in water. Beer, crab boil spices, or other flavorings can also be added to the water if desired. In Cantonese cuisine, the crabs are sometimes deep-fried or broiled, then stir-fried with green onion and sliced ginger.[8] For ideal freshness, Dungeness crabs should be cooked as soon as possible after catching, and many crab boats have steaming pots on board and will cook and pack the crabs in ice for delivery.[citation needed] Dungeness crabs will stop eating[dubious – discuss] when removed from the pressure and cold temperatures of their habitat, so keeping them alive in aquaria for even a day will degrade their quality.[citation needed] The starvation process will make the meat spongy and discolored (greyish) and will draw calcium from the shell, weakening the shell of the crab. When buying crabs, freshness can be tested by feeling the outer parts of the legs. If they bend easily, the crab isn't fresh. Unlike blue crabs, Dungenesses are not sold as soft-shells.

Dungeness crab ready to eat at