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Difference Between Bairdi crab and Opilio crab

Chionocetes Bairdi

Bairdi crab vs Opilio crab

One can hardly help being amazed by the various different types of creatures that walk the Earth. With thousands and thousands of creatures already discovered, scientists and specifically zoologists admit that there are still many species that are not known to us. Almost every few days, some new species is discovered and added to the already long list of living things. Moreover, many species that we know about have distant relatives that are part of the same family but cannot be considered the same as the already known species due to significant differences between the two. In this article, we will look at two types of crabs, namely the Opilio crab and the Bairdi crab, both of which belong to the family of crabs, but owing to certain important differences, they are far from same.

Chionoecetes opilio

The Bairdi crab, also known as tanner crab or Chionoecetes Bairdi is a type of crab that is found in the Bering Sea. They are very similar to Opilio crabs which are known as Chionoecetes Opilio and it can be extremely difficult to differentiate between the two. Opilio crabs are also found in the Bering Sea and are commercially sold under the name of ‘snow crabs’. In recent times, tanner crabs have been under threat due to overfishing. Tanner crabs are what are referred to as true crabs; they have short tails and are decapods with pincer claws on the front-most pair of their legs. Their life expectancy stretches to about a decade with the adults reaching about one to four pounds at adulthood, in about five years.
In contrast to this, the Opilio crab is also found in other areas such as the northwest Atlantic Ocean as well as the North Pacific Ocean. It is a well-known species that is usually caught with traps or by trawling. Snow crabs or the Opilio crabs have long and wide carapaces, that is, protective shell coverings that are over their bodies. The bodily projections on their shells, the tubercles, are somewhat enclosed in deposits of calcium. Moreover, they have triangular spines and a well-defined gastric region internally. The bronchial region is also what we might call very well-defined. Moving on, they have little granules along the border of their bodies.

The Bairdi crab looks buck toothed as the area above the maxillipeds actually dips down in a V shape. This is not true for Opilio crabs; the same area is considerably straighter in them.

Another important difference is on the basis of availability of the two different types of crabs. Opilio crabs are more abundant and it is easier to find them. Due to the same reason the Opilio crabs are more renowned as they have a quota of fishing that is higher than that for Bairdi crabs.

Furthermore, although both these crabs are more or less of the same size, the Bairdi crab is slightly larger when compared to the Opilio crab. This accounts for the greater amount of flesh that can be obtained from the Bairdi crab for consumption.

The flavour of the crab is another area where the two differ. Bairdi crab is characterized by a sweet flavour which is also succulent. However, this does not apply to the Opilio crab. Moreover, in some regions the Bairdi crab is known as the King crab and its Opilio counterpart as Queen Crab.

Summary of differences expressed in points:

  1. The Bairdi crab is also known as tanner crab or Chionoecetes Bairdi; Opilio crabs are also known as Chionoecetes Opilio or Snow crabs
  2. The Bairdi crab is found in the Bering Sea; Opilio crab is found in the Bering Sea, in the northwest Atlantic Ocean as well as in the North Pacific Ocean
  3. Bairdi crabs have short tails and are decapods with pincer claws on the front-most pair of their legs; Opilio crabs have long and wide carapaces which are protective shell coverings that are over their bodies, the bodily projections on their shells-tubercles, are somewhat enclosed in deposits of calcium
  4. The Bairdi crabs are known as King crabs whereas the Opilio crabs are known as Queen crabs
  5. Unlike the Opilio, only Bairdi has a succulent and sweet flavour
  6. Bairdi crabs are larger than Opilio crabs
  7. Opilio crabs are more easily available than Bairdi crabs

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  1. Bairdi crabs are not known as King crab. That would be crab from the genus Paralithodes. The most identifiable king crab are Paralithodes camtschaticus. Opilio or bairdi are sometimes referred to as Queen crab. In relation to Opilio, Bairdi are relatively scarce.

  2. Also the bairdi crab has blood red eyes where as their counterpart opilio crab have green eyes

    • I love the show Deadliest Catch but which are the big crabs and which is the smaller crab.I know they have different names but do they run different payoff?I’ve noticed on the NorthWestern that Sig goes for the big onesEdward take over for opilio.Which is more profitable? I miss Phil….Big Time the shows just not the same and why was he taken out of the introduction. STAY SAFE GUYS!!!!

  3. Jonathan and Andy on the Time Bandit.If I could work on a boat.It would be theirs,for sure.They are both some crazy guys and often it doesn’t seem like hard work but I know it is.Bust Ads this year Time Bandit.North Carolina is cheering you on.GOD BLESS….JOY

  4. Thanks for the info on the differences between opilio and bairdi crabs. Helpful. I remember seeing on “DEADLIEST CATCH” that the crabs in the tanks only live for a couple of weeks before they begin to die off and I’ve always wondered why that is. I also heard that there is a continuous flow of seawater through the tanks so there is oxygenation and no buildup of ammonia, nitrates, etc. Why don’t the crew toss some excess bait into the tanks so the crab can eat a little and possibly live longer? There must be a good reason because I can’t be the first to think of doing this. It bothers me to see the crab tossed around and I feel sorry for them, starving to death below deck but Man, they sure are delicious!
    God bless you all and keep you safe.

  5. We really love watching deadliest catch and I have looked up crab on google but we really love to eat them we found the best place for us is Goldstrike in tunica ms they have a seafood buffet Friday nights great rooms entertainment sometimes and a great spa my sorry crabs we really love you especially when you are heated in salty water a served with melted butter. You are delicious.

  6. When you go to the store you they don’t sell the whole crab and there pre-cooked why is that. You can buy Blue crabs and Dungeons crab whole why not the others?

  7. When you go to the store you they don’t sell the whole crab and there pre-cooked why is that. You can buy Blue crabs and Dungeons crab whole why not the others?

  8. I eat Opilio/snow crab all the time, it’s plenty sweet in it’s own flavor, sweeter than Dungeness, and sweet enough it doesn’t even need drawn butter.

  9. My husband is an AVID watcher of your show and therefor, so am I. I see what you all do and man I have so much respect for it. May God Bless you and keep you safe on those tough and, at times, turbulent waters. Mother Nature does not discriminate. You ALL are in my prayers. I have gained a new found respect for what you do. While I LOVE seafood, I had no idea until I tuned in what it takes to put that amazing grace on my table. GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!!
    Much love and prayers,
    Christi Dunn

  10. The toughest group of people ive ever seen!! Thank

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