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Bairdi Crab vs. Opilio Crab: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 5, 2023
Bairdi Crab, also known as Tanner crab, is larger and meatier than the Opilio Crab, commonly called Snow crab.

Key Differences

Bairdi Crab, often referred to as Tanner crab, is a larger species of crab found primarily in the northern Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, Opilio Crab, widely recognized as Snow crab, is a smaller species native to the cold waters of the Atlantic and northern Pacific. Both species have significant commercial value, with Bairdi Crab being sought after for its meatier legs and richer flavor.
Bairdi Crab can be distinguished not just by its size, but also by its robust body and rougher shell. Opilio Crab, in contrast, has a smoother shell and a more slender body. Although both species belong to the Chionoecetes family, Bairdi's features make it more distinct, while Opilio tends to be more delicate in appearance.
When it comes to habitat, Bairdi Crab prefers deeper, colder waters and is often found in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Opilio Crab, though also favoring cold environments, is more widespread across the Atlantic coasts of Canada and the northern Pacific. The extensive distribution of Opilio Crab has made it a primary target for commercial fishing, especially in Canadian waters.
In culinary circles, Bairdi Crab is prized for its sweet flavor and succulent meat, particularly in the legs. Opilio Crab, while still delicious, tends to offer a more subtle taste and less meat per leg. Many chefs and seafood lovers argue that Bairdi Crab offers a superior dining experience due to its richer taste and texture.
Lastly, in terms of market demand, Bairdi Crab, due to its size and meat quality, often fetches a higher price than Opilio Crab. However, the vast populations of Opilio Crab and its widespread distribution mean it's more accessible and commonly found in grocery stores and restaurants.

Comparison Chart

Common Name

Tanner crab
Snow crab



Shell Texture

Rougher shell
Smoother shell

Culinary Preference

Richer flavor and meatier legs
Subtler taste and less meat per leg


Deeper waters in Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska
Atlantic coasts of Canada and northern Pacific

Bairdi Crab and Opilio Crab Definitions

Bairdi Crab

Recognized for its rougher shell, Bairdi Crab offers a distinct texture and appearance.
The Bairdi Crab's shell can be distinguished from other species by its unique texture.

Opilio Crab

Widely fished, especially in Canadian waters, Opilio Crab holds significant commercial value.
Many fishing boats in Canada target Opilio Crab due to its demand.

Bairdi Crab

Also called Tanner crab, Bairdi Crab is an essential catch for many fishermen in the Pacific.
Fishermen often prefer to catch Bairdi Crab because of its commercial value.

Opilio Crab

Although smaller, Opilio Crab's vast populations and widespread distribution make it accessible.
Despite its size, Opilio Crab is abundantly available in most seafood markets.

Bairdi Crab

Highly sought-after in culinary circles, Bairdi Crab provides a rich taste and meaty legs.
The chef recommended Bairdi Crab for its succulent flavor.

Opilio Crab

Distinguished by its smoother shell, Opilio Crab has a delicate and slender body.
The Opilio Crab's sleek appearance makes it a favorite among seafood enthusiasts.

Bairdi Crab

Bairdi Crab, a larger species within the Chionoecetes family, is found primarily in the northern Pacific.
We caught several Bairdi Crabs on our fishing trip in Alaska.

Opilio Crab

Opilio Crab, commonly known as Snow crab, is native to the chilly waters of the Atlantic and northern Pacific.
Opilio Crab is a favorite dish in many Atlantic coastal restaurants.

Bairdi Crab

Bairdi Crab thrives in deeper, colder waters, notably in the Bering Sea.
We spotted numerous Bairdi Crabs in the depths of the Bering Sea.

Opilio Crab

In terms of flavor, Opilio Crab offers a more subtle taste compared to its larger counterparts.
For a lighter seafood dish, chefs often choose Opilio Crab.


Which crab has a rougher shell texture?

Bairdi Crab has a rougher shell compared to Opilio Crab.

What's another common name for Bairdi Crab?

Bairdi Crab is also known as Tanner crab.

Which crab is larger, Bairdi Crab or Opilio Crab?

Bairdi Crab is larger than Opilio Crab.

Where is the Bairdi Crab primarily found?

Bairdi Crab is primarily found in the northern Pacific, especially the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.

Which crab is more renowned for its culinary value?

Bairdi Crab is often more prized for its rich flavor and meatier legs.

How does the meat content of Opilio Crab legs compare to Bairdi Crab legs?

Opilio Crab legs typically have less meat compared to the meatier legs of Bairdi Crab.

Which crab is more widespread in terms of habitat?

Opilio Crab is more widespread, found in both the Atlantic coasts of Canada and the northern Pacific.

What waters do Opilio Crabs prefer?

Opilio Crabs are native to the cold waters of the Atlantic and northern Pacific.

Where is Opilio Crab most commonly fished?

Opilio Crab is widely fished in Canadian waters along the Atlantic coast.

Which crab fetches a higher market price?

Bairdi Crab typically fetches a higher price than Opilio Crab due to its size and meat quality.

Which crab has a more slender body?

Opilio Crab has a more slender body compared to Bairdi Crab.

Is Bairdi Crab commonly available in grocery stores?

Bairdi Crab, due to its higher price, is less commonly found in grocery stores compared to Opilio Crab.

Are both Bairdi Crab and Opilio Crab caught for commercial purposes?

Yes, both Bairdi Crab and Opilio Crab are valuable for commercial fishing, though their market values differ.

How do chefs typically describe the taste of Bairdi Crab?

Chefs describe Bairdi Crab as having a sweet, rich flavor with succulent meat.

Are Bairdi Crab and Opilio Crab from the same family?

Yes, both Bairdi Crab and Opilio Crab belong to the Chionoecetes family.

Which crab is primarily targeted for commercial fishing in Canadian waters?

Opilio Crab is the primary target for commercial fishing in Canadian waters.

How can one distinguish between Bairdi Crab and Opilio Crab by appearance?

Bairdi Crab has a larger, robust body with a rougher shell, while Opilio Crab is more slender with a smoother shell.

Do Bairdi Crabs prefer shallow or deep waters?

Bairdi Crabs prefer deeper, colder waters.

Is Opilio Crab the same as Snow crab?

Yes, Opilio Crab is commonly referred to as Snow crab.

Is the taste of Opilio Crab very distinct from Bairdi Crab?

While both are delicious, Opilio Crab offers a subtler taste, whereas Bairdi Crab has a richer flavor.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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