ODFW Shellfish Program

Red Rock Crab Are Native Crab


Red rock crab (Cancer productus) get a bad rap. A common misconception among crabbers in Oregon is that this native crab is an invasive species from the western Pacific. In fact, red rock crab are native to Oregon! Sadly, this misconception leads well-meaning people to take inappropriate actions like killing and mutilating red rock crab or harvesting above the allowed limits. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) aims to address misconceptions about this amazing and culturally important native crab.

Red rock crabs use strong, black-tipped claws for defense and feeding. They will eat invertebrates including clams, worms, and mussels. Research shows that red rock crabs will eat the smaller, invasive European green crab (Carcinus maenas). Red rock crab also scavenge tasty meals like the fishtail in this video (or the bait in your pot).

Handout cover linked to larger PDF

Did you know that red rock crabs are native to Oregon? ODFW addresses common misconceptions about red rock crab through outreach products and at the docks, boat ramps, and events. Full-size PDF of Handout

Red rock crab

Red rock crab prefers salty water with rocky habitats like jetties, piers, and docks. Find red rock crabs in larger bays with these features including Tillamook, Yaquina and Coos Bays.

multiple sizes of rock crabs in petri dish

Red rock crabs are mostly red as adults but can be diverse and colorful as juveniles, including leopard, zebra, and candy cane striped. Which one is your favorite?

Learn more about shellfish and crabbing at

ODFW Recreational and Commercial Shellfish

ODFW Crabbing and Clamming


Mitch Vance
Recreational Shellfish Assistant Project Leader
ODFW Shellfish Program

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Websites: ODFW Shellfish | ODFW Clamming/Crabbing


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