Locating essential spawning grounds for red king crab in the eastern Bering Sea

Principal Investigator: Chris Long

Red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is an important fishery species in the Bering Sea. Despite its economic importance, little is known about its in situ habitat use. In particular, essential fish habitat for red king crabs is poorly defined and is therefore a priority under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. One issue that has important implications for management is the location of the spawning habitat. Red king crab larvae spend months floating in Long 1.JPG the plankton before they settle to the bottom. The location of larval release is very important in determining if the larvae will end up in suitable habitat when they are ready to settle. In addition, because females molt right after they finish releasing their larvae they are vulnerable to disturbance at that point. The females are known to aggregate during larval release, so fisheries managers want to ensure that the habitat where they release their larvae is safeguarded during that period to protect these reproductive individuals.

This project will use pop-up satellite tags to track the movement of females during a year and to precisely identify the locations where they release their larvae and molt. Tags will be affixed to mature females during the Eastern Bering Sea Trawl Survey and released back into the wild. The tags will be programmed to pop-up after larval release the next spring, when they will transmit to the ARGOS satellite the exact location where each female released her larvae. This information will aid managers in deciding what areas are most important to protect.

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Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC)


Annual Report - Year 1

Annual Report - Year 2

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