Language English The Gulf of St. Lawrence Photo: claudelafondphoto.com Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing features The rock crab has a flat, oval, purple or brick-red body. There are nine points on each side of the anterior part of its carapace. It uses its two large claws to feed and protect itself from predators. Reproduction Fertilization in crabs is internal. The male mates with the female only once they have both moulted. The young are born in the form of larvae that do not look at all like their parents. They swim freely and metamorphose into small crabs as they develop. Diet Rock crabs eat mainly animal carcasses and sometimes invertebrates. Predators Their enemies are sea birds and fish. Habitat They live in salt water, from the coast of Labrador to South Carolina. They prefer rocky, sandy or gravel bottoms and are found in deep water, up to 800 m, in the southern part of their distribution area and in shallower water farther north. Ecology, behaviour Like other crabs, rock crabs often lose their claws when predators attack them. They sometimes even break off one of their own limbs to free themselves from a trap. Their legs and claws grow back after they moult. French nameCrabe commun (crabe tourteau) Scientific nameCancer irroratusPhylumArthropodaOrderDecapodaFamilyCancridaeSizeWidth: 13.3 cm; length: 9 cmStatusCommon species, commercially exploited in small quantities for human consumption.