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Chionoecetes bairdi.jpg
Chionoecetes bairdi
Daegu Yeongdeok crab.jpg
Chionoecetes opilio
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Oregoniidae
Genus: Chionoecetes
Krøyer, 1838

See text

Chionoecetes is a genus of crabs that live in the northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.[1]

Chionoecetes are in the kingdom of Animalia meaning that they have cells which organized into tissue that will specialize and perform specific functions. The phylum for Chionoecetes is Arthropoda to be placed in this phylum these five characteristics must be present: exoskeleton, segmented bodies, jointed appendages, bilateral symmetry, and an open circulatory system. Chionoecetes are further categorized in the subphylum crustacea. Chionoecetes are further divided into this subphylum due to biramous limbs and their larval forms. Chionoecetes are classified into the Maxillopoda class being distinguished by a five-six-four body plan ending with a telson.[2] The Order Chionoecetes fall into is Decapoda meaning that they have eight pairs of thoracic appendages five of these paired legs are the ten legs which is the definition of being a decapod.[3] The Chionoecetes Family is Oregoniidae this order uses a drag power for their locomotion.[4] Finally, we have arrived at the genus which is known as Chionoecetes this family currently contains seven distinct species that have been categorized under this family.[5]

Other names for crabs in this genus include "queen crab" (in Canada) and "spider crab" – they are known by different names in different areas of the world. The generic name Chionoecetes means snow (χιών, chion) inhabitant (οἰκητης, oiketes);[6] opilio means shepherd, and C. opilio is the primary species referred to as snow crab. Marketing strategies, however, employ snow crab for any species in the genus Chionoecetes. The name "snow crab" refers to their being commonly found in cold northern oceans.


Snow crab are caught as far north as the Arctic Ocean, from Newfoundland to Greenland and north of Norway in the Atlantic Ocean, and across the Pacific Ocean, including the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, Norton Sound, and even as far south as California for Chionoecetes bairdi.

In 2019 the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that the species is considered a sedentary species living on the seabed, and thus governed by the United Nations Law of the Sea.[7]


Bagged frozen snow crab legs for sale in a supermarket

Seven extant species are currently recognised in the genus:[8]


Crabs are prepared and eaten as a dish in many different ways all over the world. The legs are usually served in clusters and are steamed, boiled, or grilled. Snow crab can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes such as snow crab macaroni and cheese.[9]


  1. ^ L. S. Jadamec; W. E. Donaldson & P. Cullenberg (1999). Biological Field Techniques for Chionoecetes crabs. University of Alaska Sea Grant College Program. Chapter 1 - Taxonomic I ppppppo[ Archived 2005-11-13 at the Wayback Machine Chapter 2 - Life History [other chapters can be opened from the Document Outline view in Firefox only. PDF file names end in letters a-d, all on Web Archive]
  2. ^ "Marine Species Identification Portal : Class Maxillopoda". Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  3. ^ Unknown (2011-11-30). "Decapoda -". Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  4. ^ "Oregoniidae - Encyclopedia of Life". Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  5. ^ "ADW: Chionoecetes: CLASSIFICATION". Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  6. ^ Henrik Kröyer (1838). "Conspectus Crustaceorum Groenlandiae" [Survey of the crustaceans of Greenland]. Naturhistorisk Tidsskrift (in Latin). 2: 249–261.
  7. ^ "Abide by the claw: Norway's Arctic snow crab ruling boosts claim to oil". Reuters. February 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Peter K. L. Ng; Danièle Guinot & Peter J. F. Davie (2008). "Systema Brachyurorum: Part I. An annotated checklist of extant Brachyuran crabs of the world". Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 17: 1–286. CiteSeerX [with Corrigenda and Errata on pg 287-313]
  9. ^ "Freash Maryland Seafood Delivered Right To Your Door". Archived from the original on 2019-07-09. Retrieved 2019-01-04.

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