Lithodes santolla, also known as the southern king crab in English or centolla in Peru, Chile and Argentina,[3] is a species of king crab, found off the Pacific coasts of South America, especially from Valdivia at 39° 50' S to Cape Horn at 60° S.[4] It lives in the benthic zone at depths up to 150 metres (490 ft), but south of 40° it has been found at 600 m (2,000 ft).[4]

The lucrative centolla fishery around Tierra del Fuego led to an incident in August 1967 when the Argentine schooner Cruz del Sur was found fishing 400 metres (1,300 ft) from Gable Island and had to be escorted out of Chilean waters by the Chilean patrol boat Marinero Fuentealba.[5] This event among many other led to the Beagle conflict in the late 1970s.

The United States Food and Drug Administration lists the centolla crab and southern king crab as two separate species: Lithodes antarcticus and Lithodes santolla respectively.[6] Other sources consider Lithodes antarcticus to be a synonym of Lithodes santolla.

A recent study has found that L. santolla is capable of withstanding long periods of aerial exposure with no detrimental effect on crab survival, opening the possibility of commercializing L. santolla in the attractive live seafood market.[7]


  1. ^ Vinuesa, J. H., G. A. Lovrich & F. Tapella (1999). "New localities for Crustacea Decapoda in the Magellan region, southern South America" (PDF). Scientia Marina. 63 (suppl. 1): 321–323. doi:10.3989/scimar.1999.63s1321. 
  2. ^ WoRMS (2010). "Lithodes santolla (Molina, 1782)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ Southern king crab (Lithodes antarcticus) Toxicity Studies
  4. ^ a b "Pesquera Melinka en Punta Arenas ofrece Centolla, Centollón y Caracoles". Servicios Agrícolas y Agroindustria. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  5. ^ Patricia Arancibia Clavel & Francisco Bulnes Serrano (2004). La Escuadra En Acción: 1978: el conflicto Chile-Argentina visto a través de sus protagonistas (in Spanish). Santiago: Maval Ltda. ISBN 956-258-211-6. 
  6. ^ "Seafood List". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Urbina, M.A., Paschke, K., Gebauer, P., Cumillaf, J.P., Rosas, C. 2013. Physiological responses of the southern king crab, Lithodes santolla (Decapoda: Lithodidae), to aerial exposure. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 166(4), 538-545.

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