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Crab Glossary: A Glossary Of The Different Crab Types

Page 5: Crab Glossary-Asian & European Crabs

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  Blue Crab
Blue swimmer crabs are among the prettiest of the crab family. These are Mediterranean crabs, from Piraeus, Greece. Photo courtesy of
Asian Crabs:

  • Blue swimmer crab or swimming crab (Portunus pelagicus), also known as the blue manna crab flower crab and sand crab, is a cousin of the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), the Maryland crustacean. Even the most discriminating connoisseurs would be hard pressed to tell the difference when served Portunus pelagicus instead of Callinectes sapidus, although it is much larger than the Maryland crab and some find the meat to be less sweet. The blue swimmer crab is found in the intertidal estuaries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Middle Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name “flower crab” is used in east Asian countries while “blue manna crab” and “sand crab” are used in Australia. The crabs are widely distributed in eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The males have bright blue accent colors on their claws (see photo), while the females have a duller green/brown coloring. (Note: When the crabs are cooked, they turn solid red like other cooked crabs.)



Photo by John Boyer | SXC.

Japanese blue crab
Photo from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Japanese blue crab or horse crab(Portunus trituberculatus) is harvested off the coast of China and elsewhere. It is the most widely-fished species of crab in the world, served in the soups and hotpots throughout Asia.
  • Mangrove crab, also called black crab or mud crab(Scylla serrata), is found in the estuaries and mangroves of Africa, Australia and Asia. Commonly their shell color varies from a deep, mottled green to very dark brown. They are among the tastiest crab species and have a huge demand in South Asian countries and in the northern states of Australia.

European Crabs:

  • Edible crab (Cancer pagurus) is found in the North Sea, North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has the classic look often depicted in graphic representations of crabs: a reddish-brown color and oval carapace (body) with a characteristic “pie crust” edge and black claw tips.


Continue To Page 6: What To Look For In Canned Crab Meat & The Crab Book

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  Edible Crab
Photo courtesy of
The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures

Last Updated  May 2018

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