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Cryptolithodes sitchensis

(Sitka Crab)


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Common Names

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Common Names in English:

Sitka Crab, Turtle Crab, Umbrella Crab


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Physical Description

Species Cryptolithodes sitchensis

This Lithodid crab has a hugely expanded carapace so wide that it completely covers its walking legs unless the legs are stretched out. The rostrum is wider distally than it is proximally. The propodus of the chela is smooth . The margins of the abdominal plates do not have raised margins. Dorsal color variable--streaked gray like the specimen above, brown, scarlet (some males), or olive. Underside of carapace is nearly always white. Small individuals may be white or light brown. Male carapace to 9 cm wide.[1]


Rocky shores , usually on outer coast. Nestles under rocks or in crevices in algae-covered bedrock , low intertidal and subtidal . Depth Range : Intertidal to 15 m. [1]


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Feeds on upright coralline algae such as Corallina, Calliarthron, and Bossiella.[1]


This species, like Cryptolithodes typicus, is very slow moving. Tends to be found at shallower depths than C. typicus is.[1]


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Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 18-Jan-2005

Similar Species

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Cryptolithodes typicus has a similar body shape but has a rostrum that is widest at the base, the propodus of its chela is rough, and the margins of its abdominal plates have raised margins. (Ref. 109953)

Members of the genus Cryptolithodes

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 3 species and subspecies in this genus:

C. sitchensis (Sitka Crab) · C. typicus (Butterfly Crab) · C. typicus (Butterfly Crab)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 29, 2008:



  1. Cowles, Dave. Key to Invertebrates Found At or Near The Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory (a campus of Walla Walla University) Fidalgo Island, Anacortes, WA May 2009. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-11-29