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Read more about Shellfish & Roe

Southern king crab

The Southern king crab is known for its the bright red shell with decorative spikes, very white meat with a red surface and mild sweet shellfish flavour

The Southern king crab (Lithodes santolla) also known as Chilean king crab or Centolla crab is one of the largest crabs caught on the globe. It has a unique look – decorative spikes, beautiful red colour shell and white mild sweet tasting meat – a delicate eating experience.

Southern king crab products

The Southern king crab assortment consist of whole crabs, clusters (also called leg sections), single legs and leg & body meat. All products are cooked and ready to eat after being defrosted.


Southern king crab in the sea

The Southern king crab are found in the cold oceans in the southernmost parts of South Americas (southern Chile) from app. 40-60°S and up through the southwestern Atlantic coast of Argentina to Uruguay.

It lives in the benthic zone at depths down to 700 meters. The crab is found in areas with both rocky and sandy bottoms. Females move into shallow water to molt and spawn during the southern hemisphere's spring and early summer seasons (December and January). Males molt later than the females, usually in March or April. The crabs move into shallow waters to molt, and tends to remain well hidden in the rocks and crevices because they are vulnerable to predators while their shells regenerate.

Southern king crab habitat

The Southern king crab grows slowly, approx. 1 cm per molt for males. Young crabs molt twice a year. The large crab can reach up to 19 cm (the body) in size and live for 20-30 years, though it reaches maturity between four and seven years of age.

The shell colour and spike length vary a bit in the different Chilean fishing areas (16 areas). The shell can vary from pale orange to dark red.

Female Southern king crabs have been observed carrying from 2,000 to 60,000 eggs

The Southern king crab fishery is fully managed by Sernapesca, the governing body for all fishing activity. Sernapesca executes national fishery policies, supervises its enforcement and ensuring proper application of the legal rules and regulations on fishing. For several years two monitoring programs, have been compiling annual data on the fishery performance and some regulation measures are in place to moderate the fishing effort.


Southern king crabs are caught in the cold waters along the coast of Chile from 40°S - 60°S (FAO 87) by local fishermen starting June until November.

The crabs are fished with lined pots, which are lowered to between 25 and 250 m depth, and left at the seabed for up to approximately 48 hours. The design of the pots allows the king crabs to enter, but not to escape and this method has very little impact on the seabed and very limited risk of by-catch.

Local fishermen

The king crab fishery is managed through the strategy known as “SSS” (Size, Sex and Season) – shell size, only landing males, fishing closure Dec. 1st until June 30th (depending on region).

Onboard the fishing vessels the king crabs are sorted. Females and undersized males (below 12 cm shell diameter) are set back into the sea. The rest of the king crabs are stored in iced water tanks until they are landed live to our production facility in Porvenir and other production facilities in Chile. The average weight of our caught Southern king crab is approx. 1.800-2.000kg.


Royal Greenland has a 50% ownership in the production facility in Porvenir, in the southernmost region of Chile. The Southern king crabs are landed live close to this facility or partner facilities in mid or south Chile. Upon arrival the crabs are hand sorted and quality checked, before they enter production.


The Southern king crabs are cleaned and quality checked by hand

The whole Southern king crabs are cleaned and cooked to perfection in saltwater before being blast frozen. If intended for clusters, which is the shoulder attached 3 legs plus a claw, the clusters are first separated from the crab and then cooked in saltwater, before being blast frozen.

The whole or processed Southern king crab are immediately blast frozen and glazed with a thin layer of clean water and individually quick frozen to preserve texture/humidity and to avoid oxidation/freezer burns during transportation. All products are carefully hand packed into boxes.

Quality control
The local procession facilities all keep a strict HACCP based quality control throughout the processing.

Route to market

The Southern king crabs are shipped directly to customers across the world. Especially US and China appreciate the Southern king crabs.

Southern king crab in the kitchen

The Southern king crab is acknowledged for the bright red shell with decorative spikes, very white meat with a red surface and mild sweet shellfish flavour. The flavour is complimented well with mild, fatty or acidic flavours – creating a delicate eating experience.

Southern king crab cooked

The Southern king crab makes a stunning presentation on any plates or buffets – with its huge size and the shell with the decorative spikes. A meal with a true twist of extravagance. Perfect for cold servings as salads, on buffets, in sandwiches, in spring rolls or in sushi, but can also be enjoyed in warm dishes such as risotto or pasta.

The cooked Southern king crab is even easy to use, as it just need to be thawed and the leg meat can easily be shaken out of the large flexible shell.



See all our recepies with Southern king crabs here

See also

Read more about Cold-water prawns