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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.