What is red with 10 legs?
A Red Rock Crab!

Red Rock Crabs are native, plentiful, have very liberal bag limits, and are great eating. Dungeness crab are be larger and more meaty, but have significantly lower bag limits.

Photo courtesy of ODFW


These feisty crabs are deep, brick red. Their large red claws are tipped in black, and their body is a wide fan-shape. They can grow 10-inches across or more. Typical sizes are 7-inches for males and 5-inches for females. The farther north, the darker the shell.

Red Rocks are ‘walking crabs’ where all of the legs look similar. The back legs on some crabs have flippers making them a ‘swimming crabs’ (such as the Eastern blue).

Territory and Habitat

Red Rock Crabs inhabit mid-intertidal waters up to about 260 feet from Alaska to Baja California. They are common to Coos, Yaquina, and Tillamook bays that contain rocky substrates.

Rock crabs prefer rocky areas, pilings, and other structures. They favor larger, salty estuaries, eelgrass, soft-bottom habitats, and shellfish beds.

They pinch!

These crabs are mean and will pinch hard! They prey on hard-shelled clams and oysters–Your fingers are no match to those hard shells. Note: They also have teeth. Consider their defenses as they are a favorite prey for the giant Pacific octopus.

Avoid harvesting in months that don’t have the letter “r” in the name.


Before you go: Call Oregon Dept. of Agriculture shellfish safety info hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page (http://ODA.direct/ShellfishClosures). This site has updates on several different types of seafoods including crab, clams, mussels, and scallops. It covers are from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. There are maps, bag limits, closures, and potential warnings, etc.

Catch both Dungeness and Red rock crabs using the same technique.

The crab legs have a lot of meat, like most crabs. Extracting Red rock crab body meat is more challenging because the crab is smaller. There are different cooking techniques that can take advantage of this difference. See the Spruce Eats (https://www.thespruceeats.com/pacific-red-and-rock-crabs-1300653) for ideas.

–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Red Rock Crab (https://myodfw.com/crabbing-clamming/species/red-rock-crab) and Crabbing and Clamming Report (https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/crabbing-clamming-report/marine-zone)
–Wikipedia, Red Rock Crab (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_productus)

Coastal tourism professionals gathered in Astoria this week Oct 16-18, 2023 for the Oregon Coast Visitors Association Annual Summit. Many great speakers and lots of networking! Hosted at the spectacular Astoria Elk’s Lodge and nearby facilities, participants were able to experience Astoria while enhancing their professional knowledge and inspiring new collaborations. If you missed the event you can still visit the OCVA web site and staff for other helpful information. https://visittheoregoncoast.com/

Here is a sample of what was presented.

  • Destination Commute: Revolutionizing Tourism Travel
  • Inclusive Destinations: Embracing Accessible Travel
  • InstaTourism: Boosting Your Brand Through Social Media
  • Otterly Impactful: The Economic Return of Sea Otters to Oregon Coast
  • Discovering Sustainable Programs for Coastal Businesses
  • Coastal Horizons: Building a Strong Workforce
  • Influencer Journeys: Transforming Destination Stories
  • Destination Power-Up: Empowering Tourism DMOs with Tools
  • Hops for a Greener Tomorrow: Sustainable Brewery Initiatives
  • Unlocking the World: The Wheel the World Experience
  • SetJetters: Lights, Camera, Wander! Exploring Film Tourism
  • Case Studies of Regenerative Tourism
  • Advocacy Catalyst: Igniting Action in Tourism Excellence
  • Sustainability Redefined: The 4VI Approach to Destination Excellence

You may contact Oregon Sea Grant Extension Miles Phillips for assistance with sustainable tourism management. http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/tourism

Harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

The distinctive Harlequin duck is a  beautiful small sea duck with a small bill, short neck, and long tail. Males in breeding plumage are unmistakable with their dark blue color, reddish brown sides and crown, and striking white patterning on the face, neck, sides, and back.

Unlike most waterfowl that prefer quiet marshes, the Harlequin duck breeds on fast-flowing streams and winters along rocky coastlines in the crashing surf.

Tough cookie

Harlequin ducks are well adapted to their harsh surroundings. They make their way against the current and easily climb up steep and slippery rocks, although many have been found with broken bones presumably from being dashed against rocks in the rough surf.

Like other diving ducks and dabble for prey. They forage underwater for crustaceans and mollusks, insects, and small fish found in riverine and marine habitats.


Harlequins trap a lot of air in their smooth, densely packed feathers. This air layer help provide insulation from the cold water. The air also makes them exceptionally buoyant. They are known to bounce like a cork after a  dives.

The Harlequin duck is sometimes called a sea mouse for its very unducklike squeaks. You can listen to the Harlequin duck here.