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 Barents Sea

Snøkrabbe Chionoecetes opilio, also known as snow crab, is a predominantly epifaunal crustacean native to shelf depths in the northwest Atlantic Ocean and north Pacific Ocean. It is a well-known commercial species of Chionoecetes, often caught with traps or by trawling. Male C. opilio with a total length above 91 millimetres long are the most commonly trapped, especially around Canada and Newfoundland.

This crab genus is found across northern parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There are seven species in the genus Chionoecetes, all of which bear the name "snow crab." Chionoecetes opilio is also related to Chionoecetes tanneri, commonly known as the tanner crab, and other crab species found in the cold, northern oceans.

In 1996, they were first recorded in the Barents Sea, where considered invasive, but it is unclear how they arrived there exactly. Another commercially important species, the red king crab, was deliberately introduced to the same region. Like that species, it is probable that snow crab will have an adverse effect on the native species of the Barents Sea.

Snow crab are often found in the ocean´s benthic shelf and upper slope, in the sandy and muddy bottoms, and in depths as shallow as 20 metres and as deep as 1,200 metres. The most snow crab can be found at 70–280 metres in the Atlantic waters. There are interesting differences in where male and female snow crab are found in the ocean depths: Small adult and senescent adult males occur mainly at intermediate depths over much of the year, while large and hardy adult males are found mostly at depths greater than 80 metres. Adult females are gregarious and congregate at depths of 60–120 metres.


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