How to Tell a Male From a Female Alaskan King Crab

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Rest assured the Alaskan king crab on your dinner plate is a male -- unless you caught it yourself -- as only males are legal for commercial sale. Telling the sex of a live specimen is fairly easy, providing you're in a position to flip the creature over without getting pinched by a claw. Flipping an Alaskan king crab can present a challenge, as the largest males have been known to grow up to 24 pounds and have 5-foot leg spans.

Females Have Big Aprons

When you flip a male and female Alaskan king crab over, you can readily see a difference in the tail flaps that fold over the bottoms of their shells. Known as an apron, this fanlike tail shelters a female's embryos for up to a year and helps the male fertilize female eggs. The female's apron appears bell-shaped, while the male's looks like the letter T.

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A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.