Bairdi crab and snow crab are two popular types of seafood that are often compared and contrasted due to their similarities and differences.
While both are types of crab that are commonly found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart from each other.
In this article, we will explore the differences between bairdi crab and snow crab, including their appearance, taste, and availability.
By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of these two types of crab and a better appreciation for them.
Table of Contents
Bairdi Crab vs Snow Crab
Bairdi crab and snow crab are two of the most commercially important crab species in the world. Both are members of the genus Chionoecetes, which is a group of arthropods found in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean.
While they share some similarities, they also have several key differences that set them apart.
Bairdi crab, also known as Tanner crab, is a smaller species compared to snow crab. They typically measure between 6 and 10 inches across the carapace and weigh around 1 to 2 pounds.
Snow crab, on the other hand, can grow up to 10 inches across and weigh up to 4 pounds. They have a more elongated body shape and longer legs compared to the rounder and shorter-legged bairdi crab.
Habitat and Distribution
Bairdi crab and snow crab have different habitat preferences. Bairdi crab is found in shallower waters, generally between 30 and 200 meters deep, while snow crab prefers deeper waters between 50 and 400 meters.
Bairdi crab is also more commonly found in sandy or muddy areas, while snow crab is often found in rocky or gravelly habitats.
In terms of distribution, bairdi crab is found in the eastern Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, while snow crab is found in the Bering Sea, the Chukchi Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk.
Both bairdi crab and snow crab are important commercial species, but snow crab is generally more valuable due to its larger size and higher meat yield. Snow crab is commonly used in sushi and other high-end seafood dishes, while bairdi crab is often used in soups, stews, and other lower-end seafood products.
Fishing and Management
Both bairdi crab and snow crab are managed under strict regulations to ensure sustainable fishing practices. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game oversees the management of both species, setting quotas and monitoring the health of the populations. Bairdi crab is typically fished using pots or traps, while snow crab is often caught using trawls or longlines.
Habitat and Distribution
Bairdi crab and snow crab are both found in the northern Pacific Ocean, with a significant population located in the Bering Sea. Bairdi crab is typically found at depths between 20 and 200 meters, while snow crab is found at shallower depths of 20 to 150 meters.
Bairdi Crab Habitat
Bairdi crab is known to inhabit a variety of habitats, including muddy and sandy bottoms, as well as rocky areas. They tend to prefer areas with strong currents and high oxygen levels. Bairdi crab is commonly found in the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea, where they are an important commercial fishery.
Snow Crab Habitat
Snow crab is also found in the Bering Sea, as well as in the North Atlantic and the northern Pacific Ocean. They prefer sandy or muddy bottoms and are often found in areas with strong currents. In the Bering Sea, snow crab is found in shallower waters than bairdi crab, typically at depths of 20 to 150 meters.
Both bairdi crab and snow crab are known to move to different habitats depending on the season. During the winter months, they tend to move to deeper waters, while in the spring and summer, they move to shallower areas.
In terms of distribution, bairdi crab has a wider range than snow crab. Bairdi crab is found throughout the Bering Sea and in the Aleutian Islands, while snow crab is primarily found in the eastern Bering Sea.
Bairdi and snow crabs are both members of the Chionoecetes genus and have many similarities, but they also have some distinguishing physical characteristics.
Bairdi Crab Features
Bairdi crabs have a rounder, more compact body shape than snow crabs. They have five pairs of legs, including one pair of large pincer claws used for catching prey and self-defense. The pincer claws of male bairdi crabs are typically larger than those of females. The legs of bairdi crabs are shorter and thicker than those of snow crabs, and they have a more pronounced curve.
One of the most notable physical features of bairdi crabs is their large size. They are one of the largest species of crab in the world, with males growing up to 24 inches in width, and females growing up to 19 inches in width. Their size makes them a popular target for commercial fishing, especially for their meat and prized king crab legs.
Snow Crab Features
Snow crabs have a more elongated body shape than bairdi crabs, with a smaller, more triangular carapace. They also have five pairs of legs, including one pair of pincer claws. The pincer claws of male snow crabs are typically larger than those of females. The legs of snow crabs are longer and thinner than those of bairdi crabs, and they have a more pronounced spiky texture.
One of the most notable physical features of snow crabs is their long, spindly legs, which are often harvested for their meat and used in dishes such as crab legs. Snow crabs are generally smaller than bairdi crabs, with males growing up to 7.5 inches in width, and females growing up to 5.5 inches in width.
Both Bairdi crab and Snow crab are known for their high nutritional value. They are excellent sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
One serving (100 grams) of cooked Bairdi crab meat contains approximately 19 grams of protein, 1.1 grams of fat, and 0.7 grams of carbohydrates. It is also rich in vitamins such as vitamin B12 and minerals such as zinc and iron. In fact, one serving of Bairdi crab meat contains approximately 17% of the recommended daily intake of iron for adults.
Similarly, one serving (100 grams) of cooked Snow crab meat contains approximately 19 grams of protein, 0.7 grams of fat, and 0 grams of carbohydrates. It is also rich in vitamins such as vitamin B12 and minerals such as zinc and iron. One serving of Snow crab meat contains approximately 14% of the recommended daily intake of iron for adults.
Both Bairdi crab and Snow crab are low in calories and fat, making them an excellent choice for those who are looking to maintain a healthy diet. Additionally, they are both low in mercury, making them a safe choice for pregnant women and children.
Sustainability and Overfishing
Bairdi crab and snow crab are both important species in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands region, but they have different sustainability concerns. Overfishing is a major issue for both species, but the management strategies for each species are different.
Bairdi crab populations have been declared overfished in the past, and the species is still recovering. The overfishing of Bairdi crab is mainly due to the high demand for the species, which is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. The management strategy for Bairdi crab is to limit the fishing season and the number of pots that can be used, which has helped to rebuild the population size. However, the recovery process is slow and the species is still vulnerable to overfishing.
Snow crab, on the other hand, is currently considered to be a sustainable fishery. The management strategy for snow crab is to set quotas based on the size and health of the population, which ensures that the species is not overfished. The population of snow crab is monitored regularly, and the quotas are adjusted accordingly to ensure sustainability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between Bairdi crab and Snow crab?
Bairdi crab, also known as Tanner crab, has a rounder body shape and is typically smaller than Snow crab. Snow crab, on the other hand, has a more triangular body shape and longer legs. Additionally, Bairdi crab has a reddish-brown color, while Snow crab is typically a lighter orange color.
What is the taste difference between Bairdi crab and Snow crab?
Both Bairdi crab and Snow crab have a sweet, delicate flavor. However, some people believe that Bairdi crab has a slightly sweeter taste than Snow crab.
Which crab species is more common in Alaska, Bairdi or Snow crab?
Snow crab is more commonly found in Alaska than Bairdi crab. Snow crab is typically harvested in the Bering Sea, while Bairdi crab is typically found in the Gulf of Alaska.
Are Bairdi crabs larger than Snow crabs?
No, Snow crab is typically larger than Bairdi crab. Snow crab can reach up to 2 pounds, while Bairdi crab typically ranges from 1-1.5 pounds.
Which crab is more expensive, Bairdi or Snow crab?
Bairdi crab is typically more expensive than Snow crab due to its smaller size and less abundant availability.
Can you substitute Bairdi crab for Snow crab in recipes?
Yes, you can substitute Bairdi crab for Snow crab in recipes. However, keep in mind that Bairdi crab has a slightly sweeter taste and smaller size than Snow crab, which may affect the overall flavor and texture of the dish.