Cancer irroratus

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Cancer irroratus
Rock crab on tunicate colony.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Cancridae
Genus: Cancer
C. irroratus
Binomial name
Cancer irroratus
Say, 1817

Cancer irroratus (common name the Atlantic rock crab or peekytoe crab) is a crab in the genus Cancer. It is found from Iceland to South Carolina at depths up to 2,600 ft (790 m), and reaches 133 mm (5.2 in) across the carapace.


A molted carapace of Cancer irroratus from Long Beach, New York.

This crab species occurs on the eastern coast of North America, from Iceland to South Carolina.[1] Rock crabs live over a large depth range, from well above the low tide line to as deep as 2,600 feet (790 m).[1]


Cancer irroratus has nine marginal teeth on the front edge of the carapace beside each eye,[1] and reaches a carapace width of 5.25 inches (133 mm).[2] These crabs are similar in color to, and overlap in size with, the Jonah crab, Cancer borealis.[2] The two species can be distinguished by the purplish-brown spots on the carapace of C. irroratus (contrasting with the yellow spots of C. borealis), and by the smooth edges to the teeth on the edge of the carapace (denticulate in C. borealis).[2]


The rock crab has recently become a popular culinary item. The name "peekytoe crab" refers to the fact that the legs are "picked" (a Maine colloquialism meaning "curved inward").[3] Until about 1997, they were considered a nuisance species by the lobster industry because they would eat the bait from lobster traps.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Krista Page (2002). "Cancer irroratus, Atlantic rock crab". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Alice Jane Lippson & Robert L. Lippson (2006). "Deeper, open waters". Life in the Chesapeake Bay (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 258–289. ISBN 978-0-8018-8338-5.
  3. ^ Peggy Trowbridge Filippone. "Peekytoe Crab Information". Retrieved July 13, 2009.

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