It is often the case with crab that multiple species are marketed and sold as the same type of crab. This especially applies to snow crab. The broad snow crab genus name is Chionoecetes which breaks into different species. The two main species available to consumers are the bairdi and opilio, also known as queen crab. There are differences between the species, including their size and where their habitats are. We will talk about each species and what distinguishes them.

Snow Crab Prices

Company Price/lb Minimum Order Shipping Order
Global Seafoods $19.55 11 lbs $16.20
Crab Place $22.69 3 lbs $29.95
Cameron’s Seafood $36.66 3 lbs $39.99
Fulton Fish Market $36.80 2.5 lbs $25.32

Opilio Snow Crab

Opilio is the most abundant snow crab species on the market. Its other name, as mentioned above, is queen snow crab. According to NOAA, the opilio species lives off the coast of Alaska. Most of the fishers concentrate in the Bering Sea and parts of the Aleutian Islands to set their fishing pot traps. The active opilio crab season spans from January to May. During this time, fishers will take out their fleets and aim to catch their crab quota for the year.

Alaska Seafood details that the opilio variety weighs 1 to 2 pounds per crab. This is smaller than the bairdi crab which is roughly twice as large. There are limitations on the crab harvest based on the crab’s size and sex. Only male crabs that are larger than a certain measurement can make the cut.

There are typically plenty of opilio crab for sale in markets and online sites. The price of opilio crab per pound has been steadily increasing over the last few years. The difference between opilio crab price per pound 2019 and opilio crab price per pound 2018 is an increase of $1 to $2 dollars per pound. This translates to an opilio crab price of $20 to $25 per pound. Typically, fishers sell the crab as clusters of legs that are pre-cooked. However, some online sites and in-person fish markets sell live opilios as well.

Bairdi Snow Crab

Bairdi crabs are the second main type of snow crab. Bairdi season runs from January to March or April. Fishers set out along the coast of Alaska, fishing at depths as great as 340 meters. Bairdi crabs are larger than the opilio variety, weighing anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds.

According to Fortune Fish Company, the meat yield for bairdi crabs is 20%, which is a higher yield than opilio ones. If you are looking for bairdi snow crab for sale, you should have no trouble finding online sellers. Expect to see listings for freshly cooked leg clusters. Since bairdi crabs are a bit larger than opilio ones, the price per pound might be a bit higher. They tend to sell for $25 to $30 per pound.

Buying snow crab online allows you to look specifically for opilio or bairdi crab. Grocery stores may only sell snow crab without distinguishing which type you are actually getting. Now that you know the basic differences between the two types, you can better navigate the online or in-person marketplace to find what you want.

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