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Launching the 2013 culture year for Kodiak red king crab


Red king crab glaucothoeRed king crab glaucothoe.

Kodiak red king crab larvae are well on their way this spring at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward. The ovigerous females (broodstock) were captured in pots in Alitak Bay with the help of the Old Harbor community, and transported to the NOAA lab in Kodiak before being shipped to Seward. Hatching began February 18 and 360,000 larvae were stocked in six 1200 liter tanks. The larvae are being fed a diet of enriched Artemia and microalgae that yielded the highest hatchery survivals in previous years’ research. The larvae are now reaching the last larval stage, known as glaucothoe.

AKCRRAB will attain a major milestone this year with the first experimental release of hatchery-raised juveniles to the natural environment. The experiment will be conducted in Cozy Cove near Old Harbor on Kodiak Island in fall 2013, to measure the effects of release density on the growth and survival of juvenile crabs in their first year. Field sites will be monitored by scientists from the NOAA Kodiak lab to determine the best density for potential future releases. Trawls will also be conducted in these areas to estimate predator abundance, and tethering experiments will help determine relative predation risks to the juveniles. Densities of benthic (bottom) animals will be monitored to ensure that the crabs are not having a detrimental effect on the ecosystem. This is the first year of a planned multiyear set of experiments designed to develop optimal release strategies for red king crab, and to estimate the economic efficiency of a possible wild release program.

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.

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