Dungeness Crab FAQs

As customers and website passersby know by now—Fathom Seafood is the number one place to be to order super fresh, live Dungeness crab. Many people partake in delicious Dungeness crab cuisine without knowing anything about the species. They are indeed interesting and delectable creatures that individuals all around the world crave. 

Learn interesting FAQs about the food you love to eat and how you can get it on your dinner table by tomorrow night! 

Where does the Dungeness crab get its name?

The Dungeness crab gets its name from one of the areas in which it lives—“a shallow, sandy bay inside of Dungeness Spit on the south shore of the Straits of Juan de Fuca”—which is located between Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula--the port of Dungeness, Washington. 

Individuals who love to fish and fishermen and women can catch Dungeness crab from the central coast of California near San Fransisco all the way up the coast, even into Alaska and Canada. Its main territory, though, is throughout Puget Sound and the coastal waters of Oregon and Washington. 

Fathom Seafood is owned and operated out of Tacoma, Washington.

Dungeness Tacoma

Fun fact: If your zodiac sign is cancer, you can thank this fellow for being your monthly mascot! The Dungeness crab’s scientific name is Cancer magister, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, and the crab image comes from the Dungeness crab. 

How does the Dungeness crab look and behave?

Dungeness Crab Photo

Image Credit / Encyclopedia of Puget Sound 

Dungeness crabs are different from others in that their shell’s coloring has shades of purple among a grayish-brown with a cream-colored underside. The species can grow up to 10 inches but are typically between 6 and 8 inches, and commercially caught crab typically weigh between 1.5 and 3 pounds. 

Did you know that Dungeness crabs molt their hard shells each year? This must take place in order for them to grow. 

Watch this quick video of a juvenile Dungeness crab molting. It’s pretty amazing! 


Have you heard of the “crab walk”? The Dungeness crab is a sideways walker; they push with four legs on one side and then pull with the other side.

Dungeness crabs are foragers. They scavenge along the seabed looking for small organisms to munch on, although they have also been known to consume shrimp, mussels, small crabs, clams, and worms

They have many predators. Other crab species, halibut, dogfish, sculpins, octopus, and sea otters love dining on Dungeness crab. 

How do Dungeness Crabs mate and reproduce?

Look at the overwhelming cuteness of this baby Dungeness crab!

Dungeness Crab Baby

Dungeness crabs are interesting reproducers. 

Fathom Seafood has an entire article, which is quite fascinating, on how Dungeness crabs mate and reproduce; however, here is the gist…

  • Females begin molting during the spring and summer months, which are also common mating periods.
  • While she is shimmying out of her shell and before a new shell has formed, this is prime time for mating. 
  • Males are attracted to females once their pheromones are released. 
  • What comes next is a little odd—the male skitters up to the female and “embraces” her in a hug. A really long hug. 
  • The female decides whether or not his hug is worth going all the way.
  • The deed is done!

An interesting fact about Dungeness crab mating and reproduction is that the female holds most of the control. She decides if he is the right mate when to produce, and can even hold onto her fertilized eggs until she is ready to “use” them. And she can carry up to 2.5 million eggs at once! Now that’s one mighty mama. 

To complete the life cycle, Dungeness crabs typically live between 8 and 13 years. 

How available and sustainable are Dungeness crabs?

Clean Dungeness Crab

The Dungeness crab commercial fishing season ranges by location, and other factors can sometimes alter the dates such as weather, water health, and whether or not the species has been overfished in a particular area. 

  • Washington Dungeness crab season: October 1 through April 15. 
  • Oregon Dungeness crab season: December 1 through April 14. 

Did you know that you can catch Dungeness crab yourself? 

California, Oregon, and Washington all have recreational crab seasons. Of course, there are regulations and laws that must be followed. If you’re interested, you can go to any state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife and search for their regulations on catching Dungeness crab. 

Some wonder if fishing for Dungeness crab is a sustainable process. 

Dungeness crab is a sustainable seafood choice to catch and eat. From the ocean to the dinner plate, fishermen and women, and all the other individuals that have a hand in getting you fresh crab, ensure they do so safely and with the environment and health of the crab in mind as well. 

One website that consumers can utilize to check for sustainability in the seafood that they eat is called Seafood Watch. Their site states:

When you choose to buy sustainable seafood, you push suppliers to source more environmentally responsible products, driving significant improvements throughout the industry. Ultimately, your choices have an impact on the health of the ocean. 

When you browse their site, consumers can learn the ins and outs of what it means to be sustainable and they are able to research any type of seafood and its current status. 

How do you clean a Dungeness crab to get it ready to serve?

Dungeness crabs have a surprisingly sweet taste! They are quite succulent while keeping a hint of the ocean in their flavor. 

Fathom Seafood has worked with acclaimed chef, Andrew Zimmern, multiple times now and he is a definite fan of the Dungeness Crab.

Learn how to clean a Dungeness crab from Fathom Seafood with Chef Zimmern. This is an important step to take before you cook your delicious crab meal. 


 Go online to Fathom Seafood’s recipe section and browse the wide variety of Dungeness crab recipes they have to offer. 

Here are some additional random facts about the Dungeness crab: 

  • Crabs are able to regenerate lost appendages. 
  • Dungeness crabs have been harvested commercially since the 1880s! 
  • The cooking process brings out the bright orange color in the crab. 

Are you interested in trying out a Dungeness crab meal for the first time?

Buy some online today! 

How long does Dungeness crab from Fathom Seafood take to ship?

Within 24 hours! 

Browse Fathom Seafood’s selection and receive your fresh, live Dungeness crab the very next day! Fathom ships quick! Read more about shipping and delivery here

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