Studies on red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) introduced to the Barents Sea

Studies on red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) introduced to the Barents Sea

K.E. Jørstad, E. Farestveit, H. Rudra, A.-L. Agnalt, and S. Olsen

Studies on red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) introduced to the Barents SeaThis is part of Crabs in Cold Water Regions: Biology, Management, and Economics
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Description

Russian scientists attempted to introduce the red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) to the Barents Sea in the 1930s, but successful transplantation was not carried out until 1960-1970. About 1.5 million larvae and 13,800 juveniles and adults were released in Kola Bay near Murmansk. From the mid-1970s, king crabs were occasionally recorded as bycatch in Russian and Norwegian coastal fisheries. However, in the early 1990s, a high abundance of crabs caused problems for coastal net fisheries in the Norwegian Varangerfjord, and the result was that a joint Russian-Norwegian red king crab research program was initiated. In 1994, information from local divers motivated a diver survey in shallow waters near Kirkenesin Varangerfjord; mating crabs were observed and recorded by underwater video. This documentation, and the occurrence of abundant berried females and juvenile crabs in the fjord system, indicated successful reproduction was occurring in the area. Twenty-four juvenile crabs (83-101mm carapace width) were caught and transported to Bergen, where they were kept under quarantine conditions. They were tagged individually by various methods and held in tanks, and tag loss was monitored through molting. Individual growth was also recorded. Genetic aspects were considered important and 195 white muscle samples were collected and analyzed for allozyme variation. There was a low level of genetic variation,suggesting "bottlenecking," which should be compared with the donor population from the Pacific Ocean.

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