information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

(Lithodes maja)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



A large crab with a well-calcified carapace with a width up to 12 cm. The carapace is almost circular with a well-defined rim of irregular spines. These spines are scattered on the back and legs. The right pincer is larger than the left and the fifth legs are small and hidden.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

A northern species, the majority of records limited to the northern North Sea and northern Scotland and England but with a few records off south-west England.

Global distribution

Recorded from northern Norway and the North Sea, into the Kattegat and south-west of England in the North East Atlantic, and from the Davis Strait south to Carolina in the North West Atlantic.


Found on open coasts and offshore from 10-1000 m.

Depth range

10 - 1000 m

Identifying features

  • Carapace width 12 cm, circular, well-defined rim of irregular spines.
  • Right chela larger than left.
  • Fifth pereopods very small and hidden.
  • Abdomen, particularly of female, strongly asymmetrical.

Additional information


Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]


  1. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-38

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System),  2021. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2021-04-20


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2006. Lithodes maja. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 20-04-2021]. Available from:

Last Updated: 25/10/2006