April 27, 2015


This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. A diver’s eye view of crab outstocking. More after this.

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Round two of a federal out stocking of hatchery raised king crab proved to be a success.  The crab’s new home is practically right outside the Kodiak crab lab’s back door. Since last August NOAA’s dive team has taken the plunge over 160 times, in order to keep tabs on over 11, 000 released baby crabs.

“So this year we were looking at release density; this is simply how many crabs you put out into a given area.” 

NOAA Research Fisheries Biologist and diver Chris Long-

“This is almost a factory level experiment. It’s a question of what setting do we put things at to get the best results, how can we optimize production. Because at the end of the day what we want is the highest survival for these crabs so there is the most mature ones at the end.”

Within the first day of release, around 65 percent of the crab will die. Scientists at the crab lab are trying everything to increase their chances of survival.

“When you put animals from a hatchery into a wild environment it is a shock to them.  a lot of the crabs weren’t hiding.  So that first day or two they are out in the open they are not quite behaving the right way yet, and so most of that 65 percent decline is due to predation.”     

After six months, results showed that it is possible for hatchery raised red king crab to survive in the wild.  Phase 3 of the out stocking project will experiment with various crab sizes and release times.

“The plan is to release them at different times over the summer, really small, and then after a couple molts when they have gotten a little bit bigger, and then a couple molts more. And then we can compare and say okay we know how well they survive in the lab. We know what the mortality rate looks like in the field, so the best time to release them best size to release them at is here.” 

Learn more at AKCRABB for news and updates.  

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web atwww.oceanbeauty.com. In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.