Blue king crabs hatched from Little Diomede Island travel to Juneau for AKCRRAB research
About 800 nine-month-old juvenile blue king crabs were sent from the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward to the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in Juneau for research led by Dr. Sherry Tamone of UAS and Dr. Ginny Eckert of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Juneau Center. The tiny crabs, from 2 to 7 mm, will be studied by scientists and graduate students in Juneau to better understand growth and molting dynamics and to develop methods to tag them. The juveniles were hatched from crabs collected off Little Diomede Island and cultured at the hatchery. Heidi Herter, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent, and Little Diomede resident Opik Ahkinga, spent two weeks in April 2008 fishing for the crabs through the ice. The blue king crab collection effort was also supported by Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation and Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association partners.
Some of the crabs collected from Little Diomede were not ready to hatch larvae in 2008, needing another year for development. These crabs are now beginning to release larvae, which will be cultured at the hatchery. Also, twenty Bristol Bay red king crab females at the hatchery are starting to hatch their larvae. Adult female crabs can hold up to 250,000 embryos, and release larvae over one to several weeks. Soon, millions of red and blue king crab larvae will be happily swimming in tanks at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, marking the start of an exciting 2009 production run.
The Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology (AKCRRAB) program is a research and enhancement 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. For more information go to http://seagrant.uaf.edu/research/projects/initiatives/king_crab/general.