Dungeness Crab | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Dungeness Crab

Cancer magister

Also known as

Dungles, market crab


Sub-polar & temperate waters of northeast Pacific, from the Aleutian Islands to southern California


Soft bottoms

Feeding Habits

Foraging omnivore

Conservation Status

Not listed


Infraorder Brachyura (crabs with short “tail” hidden under the body); Family Cancridae (crabs, most


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Dungeness crabs are a crustacean species. Like all arthropods, they have an “exoskeleton” (a skeleton on the outside of their body), segmented body parts and jointed appendages. Because their skeleton is outside of their body, arthropods must grow a new exoskeleton and shed their old one as they grow; a process called molting. When people find empty Dungeness crab shells strewn along beaches, they often mistake them for dead crabs, when in fact they are the old exoskeletons of crabs that are still alive, but are now a little bit larger than before.

Dungeness crab have not been assessed or listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), but have been assessed under the Precautionary Approach Framework by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in Canada as Healthy.

Oceana Canada is working to protect Canada’s oceans for species like the Dungeness crab. Find out more about our campaigns and join us in helping to bring abundance back to the ocean.