Cancer oregonensis (Pygmy rock crab)
2005 Mary Jo Adams
small crab has a carapace width of less than 2 inches. The
rounded carapace is widest at the 7 th or 8 th lateral tooth and
unlike other cancer crabs, the carapace lacks angular corners.
The carapace is usually red-brown but color varies; the tips of
the claws look like they were dipped in black ink. Its legs
are quite hairy. Look for this crab low in the
intertidal under rocks, hiding in crevices, or tucked away in the
otherwise empty shell of a giant barnacle ( Balanus nubilus
). It is found subtidally to a depth of 1400 feet.
pygmy rock crab accesses the small barnacles that it preys on by
crushing their shells with powerful claws. Other
common names for this crab are hairy cancer crab and Oregon cancer
crab most likely to be confused with this species is Lophopanopeus
bellus bellus (the black clawed crab) as both are small and
have black tipped claws. To distinguish between the two,
look for the 3 lateral teeth along the edge of the carapace of the
black-clawed crab. The pygmy rock crab carapace is more rounded,
has more numerous teeth, and has very hairy legs.
This page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 12/5/05.