Mating pairs of red king crabs (Paralithodes camtschaticus) in the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska, 1960-1984
G.C. Powell, D. Pengilly, and S.F. Blau
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Mating activity of red king crabs, Paralithodes camtschaticus, includes the grasping of females by males prior to and during copulation. We review and present extensive data from published and unpublished sources on grasping pairs of red king crabs collected from the Kodiak archipelago, Alaska. There were 3,651 grasping pairs of red king crabs captured from 22 locations along the eastern portion of the Kodiak archipelago. Pairs were captured from 1960 to 1984 with the majority (79%) captured during the 1966-1968 mating seasons. St. Paul Harbor was the most accessible location, received the most effort, and accounted for 41% of the pairs captured. Divers captured 99% of the grasping pairs, most in kelp beds with water depths ≤18 m. Pairs were collected from January through May with most collected in April (63%) and May (32%). Pairs collected per dive minute tended to peak in April. The mean size of males (159 mm carapace length [CL]) was larger than the mean size of female crabs (126 mm CL),and males were larger than their female partners in 95% of the pairs. The mean carapace length of females in grasping pairs increased markedly over the mating season, whereas such a trend was less evident in males. Legal-sized males (≥147 mm CL) composed 75% of the males in pairs and only 4% of all males in pairs were <130 mm CL. Fifty-nine percent of the grasping males were an exuviants. These data suggest that the present size limit alone does not provide adequate protection to the reproductive potential of the stock and that 130 mm CL should be used as a lower size bound for identifying functionally mature males when developing fishery management measures for the Kodiak area red king crab fishery.
- Item number: AK-SG-02-01r
- Year: 2002
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.4027/ccwrbme.2002.18