E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Metacarcinus gracilis (Dana, 1852)
Graceful Rock Crab; Slender Crab
Family: Cancridae

Species account author: Josephine Hart.
Extracted from Crabs and their relatives of British Columbia.
Photo of species

© Royal BC Museum  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1669)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Metacarcinus gracilis in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information

Carapace surface more convex than Cancer magister and finely granulated; front with 5 teeth, the central smallest; has sharp antero-lateral teeth and one small postero-lateral tooth on margins. Pterygostomian area pubescent. Chelipeds with marginal pointed projections, two blunt teeth on dorsal ridge and fingers subequal, with small teeth on dorsal finger and both fingers light coloured. Walking legs slender; dactyls cylindrical; claw sharp.


Carapace: male 65 x 115, female 60 x 87 mm.


Carapace light purplish or red-brown with some cream-coloured granules; margins outlined with cream except posteriorly where they are beaded with purplish-brown. Cheliped: ischium white; merus with orange and brown spots; carpus and palm with outer face whitish with purple and inner faces violet; fingers white with purple-brown, violet and orange. Walking legs white with red-brown and violet streaks; claw orange. Eyestalk white with purple brown streak; cornea white with black crescent.



Prince William Sound (60°46’N, 146°31’W), Alaska, to San Sebastian Viscaino Bay, Mexico; intertidal to 143 m.
Distribution In British Columbia

Common in muddy areas.


These crabs may eat up to 25% of newly settled oyster spat in oyster farms. Floating rafts for spat collection will thwart this activity. (D. B. Quayle, pers. comm.). They have been observed breaking the shells and then eating barnacles (Brent Cook, pers. comm.).

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cancer gracilis Dana, 1852

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-05-28 4:34:17 AM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC