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Biochemistry studies improve king crab larval diet


Artemia (pictured) that is enriched with different lipids will be used to determine the optimal diet for king crab larvae.


Over the last few years, AKCRRAB researchers have developed and refined methods for raising red king crab larvae in the hatchery. A goal for this year’s research is to find out more about the nutritional needs of the larvae. During the last week of March 2013, red king crabs collected near Juneau, Alaska, started hatching at the Seward Marine Center. As hatch rates increased in April, biologists moved the crabs to the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery where they will soon begin dietary larval rearing experiments.

Louise Copeman, research associate for the Cooperative Institute of Marine Resources Studies at Oregon State University, is assisting hatchery biologists with the red king crab nutrition experiment. Dr. Copeman is an expert in the nutritional requirements of fish larvae and is applying her skills to king crab. AKCRRAB researchers will vary the diet of king crab larvae to assess essential fatty acid requirements.

In this experiment, king crab larvae will be fed on the plankton Artemia that have been raised on enrichment diets with varied essential fatty acid ratios. Dr. Copeman, who developed the enrichment diets, will analyze lipid profiles of hatchery larvae to determine the uptake of different fatty acids by the crab larvae and compare them to wild larvae. This will enable the team to evaluate rearing success in terms of nutrition, and to determine how hatchery diets compare with a wild diet. One important outcome of this project will be the development of a customized diet tailored to red king crab larvae for optimal survival and performance under hatchery conditions.

News Flash is edited by Ginny Eckert. AKCRRAB is a research and rehabilitation project sponsored by the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, NOAA Fisheries, the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, community groups, and industry members.

project partners

University of Alaska Fairbanks

April issue of News Flash, a monthly update for the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology (AKCRRAB) program

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