Language English The Gulf of St. Lawrence Photo: claudelafondphoto.com Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing featuresThe 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. ReproductionFertilization 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. DietRock crabs eat mainly animal carcasses and sometimes invertebrates. PredatorsTheir enemies are sea birds and fish. HabitatThey 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, behaviourLike 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, tourteau pointclos Scientific nameCancer irroratusPhylumArthropodaClassCrustaceaOrderDecapodaFamilyCancridaeSizeWidth: 13.3 cm; length: 9 cmStatusCommon species, commercially exploited in small quantities for human consumption.