DEFINITION (from Wikipedia): Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short “tail” (Greek: brachy = short, ura = tail), or where the abdomen is entirely hidden under the thorax. They are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton, and are armed with a single pair of chelae (claws). Crabs are found in all of the world’s oceans; there are also many freshwater and terrestrial crabs, particularly in tropical regions. Crabs vary in size from the pea crab, only a few millimetres wide, to the Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of up to 4 m .
True crabs have five pairs of legs, the first of which is modified into a pair of claws and is not used for locomotion. In all but a few crabs (for example, Raninoida), the abdomen is folded under the cephalothorax. The mouthparts of crabs are covered by flattened maxillipeds, and the front of the carapace does not form a long rostrum . The gills of crabs are formed of flattened plates (“phyllobranchiate”), resembling those of shrimp, but of a different structure .
For more information on crab research and fisheries in Alaska, please check out the following links: