Distribution and reproductive biology of the golden king crab lithodes aequispina in the eastern bering sea

Somerton, D.A.; Otto, R.S.

Fishery Bulletin (Washington D C) 84(3): 571-584


ISSN/ISBN: 0090-0656
Accession: 005175531

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The golden king crab is a large anomuran that supports a new, rapidly expanding fishery in the eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Based on size, sex, and abundance data collected by U.S. observers aboard foreign trawlers and by National Marine Fisheries Service personnel aboard research vessels, we examined latitudinal and depth variation in mean size (carapace length), size at maturity, weight at size, and relative abundance. Mean size decreases by 6.2 mm for males and 4.6 mm for females with each 1 degree increase in latitude. Size at maturity decreases with increasing latitude from 130 mm for males and 111 mm for females in the southern area to 92 mm and 98 mm in the northern area. These decreases may be due to a temperature induced decrease in growth rate. Weight at size increases by 10% from the southern to the northern area owing to a latitudinal change in body shape. Mean size and relative abundance of both sexes increase with a decrease in depth, suggesting that an onshore ontogenetic migration occurs and that adult males migrate into somewhat shallower water than adult females. Fecundity (number of uneyed embryos) of northern females increases with size according to -24815 + 323 CL, where CL is carapace length. This relationship changes with latitude and southern females carry about 1,330 fewer eggs than equal-sized northern females. Mean length of uneyed eggs is 2.2 mm. Based on the lack of a clear seasonal change in the occurrence of eyed and uneyed clutches, golden king crab appear to have protracted, or perhaps year-round, breeding.