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Spiny king crab

Spiny king crab

On Exhibit: Monterey Bay Habitats

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Paralithodes rathbuni

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    crabs, sea stars, scavenged food

  • Size

    to 6 inches across (15 cm)

  • Relatives

    California king crab, Alaskan king crab; other crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, lobsters)

  • Habitat

    Deep Sea

  • Range

    seafloor, 500-2,400 feet (152-732 m)

Natural History

Spiny king crabs prowl the deep seafloor for live food, eating other crabs and sea stars. But when they can't find fresh food, they're quick to lunch on leftover scraps or dead animals that fall from above. 

This crab has clutching claws and fast-moving mouth parts—they help the crab grab food, tear it apart and shovel the pieces into its mouth.


In Monterey Bay, local fishers catch these king crabs using traps. Trapping is generally a safe way to catch seafood, as unwanted animals can be released unharmed.

Cool Facts

Sharp spikes protrude from this crab's body, offering protection from predators.

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