How do I Ship Dungeness Crab?

Written by angie beckert
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How do I Ship Dungeness Crab?
Dungeness crabs are a popular Pacific crab variety. (dungeness crab image by Mat Hayward from

Shipping Dungeness crabs, just like all other live seafood requires careful packaging and timing. If the person receiving Dungeness crabs does not get them within a day or so, a majority of the crabs may die in transit. If you, however, must send Dungeness crabs, there are some packaging techniques that will increase the likelihood the crabs will survive shipment. FedEx recommends shipping overnight to ensure that your recipient does not receive dead crabs on their doorstep.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dungess crab (live, cooked, or frozen)
  • Seaweed (for live crabs)
  • Frozen gel packs
  • 2-mil resistant watertight plastic bags
  • Insulated Polystyrene Foam Cooler
  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • Pressure sensitive packaging tape
  • Permanent Marker

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  1. 1

    Put absorbent pads in the bottom of the cooler. Line the cooler bottom with a plastic liner. Place frozen gel packs into cooler bottom. Add a second liner over top of the gel pack.

  2. 2

    Place crabs in container, making sure they have space to move around slightly. Include seaweed if possible as well as tinier refrigerated gel packs around the crabs if size of the container permits. Do not seal the bag as this can suffocate the crabs.

  3. 3

    Add another gel pack on top by taping securely to the top of the container lid. Close the container using at least three strips of packaging tape at least 2 inches wide.

  4. 4

    Pack the cooler into a corrugated cardboard box. Secure any open flaps and seal any seams with pressure sensitive packaging tape. Mark the box as "perishable."

  5. 5

    Take box immediately to your shipping company of choice, FedEx, UPS, or USPS. Ship it as overnight delivery.

Tips and warnings

  • Package your live Dungeness crabs to be at 10 degrees Carenheit. This is the ideal temperature to keep them alive during transit.
  • If you are flying you can take live seafood or shellfish on as cargo. Airlines such as Alaska Air require similar packaging as shippers.
  • You can also ship frozen or cooked Dungeness crab as listed above. If the crab has been cooked, do not add seaweed and use gel packs or dry ice as necessary to keep the appropriate temperature for storage.
  • Check to see how long your package will take to arrive to the recipient. Live seafood should not be packaged for shipping longer than 12 to 24 hours unless absolutely necessary.
  • Tell your recipient that if the crabs seem to be lifeless or possibly dead upon arrival, not to eat them as they could get sick.
  • Do not ship live seafood over the weekend as the recipient may not receive it until the next business day.
  • Do not overpack crabs into the container.

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