Kelp Crab   Pugettia producta

When you visit almost any wharf or piling in Puget Sound, whose lower portion is always submerged, you will usually find a large (3.5 inches wide) dark red to green crab.  Aggressive when handled, the Kelp Crab prefers to hang from vertical structures, such as piling, eelgrass and kelp, in a protected marine environment.  

The Kelp Crab, whose body shell or carapace can reach four inches, has sharp tips on its walking legs, powerful pinchers and spines on the carapace.  Don't handle these agile crabs as the pinchers can break the skin.  Normally these mainly herbivorous (plant eating) animals move about very little while eating tiny bits of marine plants along with the occasional hydroids that live on piling or kelp.

They are very prolific producing a new set of eggs as often as every 30 days.  The eggs, like those of most crabs, are held under the tail which is curled under the abdomen.  During low tide Kelp Crabs can be found bunched up on a piling between the water line and the bottom sediments. During the low tides of June, Kelp Crabs can be easily found on the Boston Harbor Marina pilings.

They range from Alaska to Baja California.