AKCRRAB ships juvenile red king crabs to Juneau
Ultimately, the success of a fishery rehabilitation effort for Alaska king crabs will hinge on the ability of released hatchery-reared individuals to be competent—able to compete for resources, find shelter, and avoid predation. AKCRRAB scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences are increasing their research into factors that may affect competency of hatchery-raised juveniles in the wild.
In June 2011, researchers shipped 4,400 juvenile red king crabs from the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward to the Juneau Center of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The juveniles were hatched and reared from ovigerous females collected in the Juneau area during the Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2010 fall crab survey.
The juvenile crabs are being returned to Juneau for field experiments, to develop successful release strategies and improve understanding of potential environmental impacts of releasing hatchery-cultured crabs into the wild.
Little is currently known about predation on newly settled red king crabs, but predation is expected to be a major factor in post-release survival. Experiments using scuba and underwater video cameras will determine if body size or seasonal differences in release time impact predation rates, helping to identify the time periods and sizes at which juvenile crabs may be most vulnerable.
News Flash is edited by Ben Daly. 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. For more information go to http://seagrant.uaf.edu/research/projects/initiatives/king_crab/general.