This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. From the crab lab into the wild. Learn more after this…

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Phase two of a seven year project takes place this week. NOAA biologists along with their star dive team are releasing 13,000 hatchery raised Alaska red king crab into their new home on Kodiak in Old harbor. The AKCRRAB project started back in 2006 and is a coalition of managers, scientists, academics, and industry. What began as a test in the NOAA crab lab to see if it was possible to raise crab in a hatchery setting will now be taken to a whole new level.

“Where we are now is actual experimentation in the wild.” Crab

Bob Foy is director of NOAA”S Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

“ So it’s pretty exciting, are goals this year is  just to assess the importance of density. So how many animals should we put out in a particular area.”

They will place the crab at different densities. 100 crab per square meter in one location, 50 in another meter square and then 25. Foy says the importance is just to see what could happen for the out stock experiment.

“At the same time we are going to look at predators, we are going to look at the movement of the animals, and the health of the animals over time.”

Divers will be working closely with the crab. The animals are very small and not easy to detect so the team will monitor them as much as they can after the release.

“Our results could range from anywhere from we don’t see them to we see them at numbers that suggest that they are able to survive in the habitat we are putting them in and hopefully grow up after a long period of time.”

The crabs new home was hand picked by the team as a place where they will hopefully be protected and adapt accordingly.

“I think we have picked a perfect spot for that, where they are right now. The nice thing about the region is that it does support red king crab and it has a history of supporting red king crab so if we are successful it is likely that the crab will continue to have the habitat that is appropriate for them and potentially the animals can survive.”

Foy feels that the knowledge that they have learned so far from raising the red king crab has already made the project a success. He hopes to see good results and to be able to use this next phase and apply it to the blue king crab species and out stocking in the Pribilof Islands.

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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods.  Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.  In Kodiak I’m Stephanie Mangini.