Male tanner crabs can reach 6 inches in width, while females are about half the size. Despite their smaller size, females can carry up to 100,000 eggs. After hatching from the egg, juvenile snow crabs will molt their shells and grow a new one as they increase in size. When they reach sexual maturity, they will never molt again. This last molt is called the “terminal molt”.
Unfortunately, the tanner crab population in southeast Alaska is plagued by an algae called parasitic dinoflagellate. This parasite causes “bitter crab disease” which is not harmful to humans but causes the meat to taste bad and eventually kills the crab.