Fish Radio

March 14, 2014

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Discoveries at the nation’s top crab lab. More after this –                

Pods of young king crab Credit:  NOAA

Pods of young king crab
Credit: NOAA

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Did you know that red king crab are cannibals and eat their babies, but blue king crab do not? Or that deep water golden king crabs are almost indestructible and appear to resist ocean acidification?   Those are just a few of the things being studied at the nation’s top king crab lab   at Kodiak. From yearly king crab stock surveys in the Bering Sea to biology and breeding. Currently, researchers are studying crab diets. Finding out what they are eating tells a lot about what’s out there –

 Do we care what they are eating?  it helps us understand if the environment is producing enough food to the benthos, to the bottom of the ocean – that’s a big question. What they’ve found in the Bering Sea is that there are cycles.

  Bob Foy is director of the NOAA lab at Kodiak’s Near Island .  Understanding the production of the ocean ecosystem, Foy says, can help predict how well the crab stocks might do  researchers also have discovered recently that while female king crab lay hundreds of thousands of eggs, the viability can be extremely variable over time. That’s changed the way the stocks are being surveyed.

 During our survey now we are taking a certain number of crab and mentoring what their reproductive status is. Hopefully, what that will do allow us to predict changes we might expect in the future.

 Foy says the lab studies hope to find clues as to why king crab stocks are not returning to Kodiak and why recruitment is so low and slow at Bristol Bay.

  Is it  production or predation? Are the juveniles being swept away/ What is leading to this problem. We do know there is a brood stock in Bristol Bay but what is happening to all the progeny.  

 It takes up to eight years for king crab to grow to adults and that means a lot has to go right.

 So now you have to have not just one good year class, but multiple year classes that then have to make it eight years before it’s viable so a lot has to go right    around Kodiak for us to see crab again.

 Learn more about king crab at ComFish.   

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