The Dungeness Crab gets its common name from the town of Dungeness, Washington, now called Old Town Dungeness, where the first commercial harvesting of the crab was done. The Dungeness Crab is the only commercially important crab in the state of Washington's territorial waters and was the first shellfish harvested commercially on the North Pacific Coast.
About one-quarter of the crab's weight is meat. The flesh has what is considered to be a delicate flavour that is slightly sweet.
Larger crabs are valued for the higher meat-to-shell ratio. Live crabs are cooked simply by steaming for 15–18 minutes, or by boiling for about 10 minutes in water.
Dungeness crabs have a wide, long, hard shell, which they must periodically moult to grow.
They have five pairs of legs of which two end in claws that the crab uses both as defence and to tear apart large food items.