Critical habitat for ovigerous Dungeness crabs

By: , and 
Edited by: Gordon H. KruseNicolas BezAnthony BoothMartin W. DornSusan HillsRomuald N. LipciusDominique PelletierClaude RoyStephen J. Smith, and David B. Witherell



The Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, supports an important fishery in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, yet there is limited knowledge of ovigerous female brooding locations and brooding behavior. Our earlier research suggests that ovigerous crabs aggregate at the same brooding locations for many years. Within these locations, ovigerous females occur in high densities, with the majority of the aggregation buried within the sediment. These locations often have similar water depths and sediment types and appear to be critical for this life history stage. Our study was designed to examine the bathymetric distribution of Dungeness crabs in bays with and without sea otters at eight locations within the Glacier Bay area by conducting transects with a video-equipped manned submersible. Two of the bays investigated contained large aggregations of ovigerous females. At both sites the substrate was composed primarily of sand. However, only a small percentage of the 33 km of transects were classified as sand. These data suggest that sand substrate may be a limiting resource. Since crab brooding aggregations represent a large portion of the crab population within a small area, and because they are a critical component of Dungeness life history, areas with these characteristics need to be investigated, mapped, and protected from development or exploitation. The areas requiring protection from the impact of anthropogenic wastes, fishing, and logging activities could be quite small, thus limiting conflict with alternative users.

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Critical habitat for ovigerous Dungeness crabs
ISBN 1-56612-068-3
DOI 10.4027/spmmp.2001
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher University of Alaska Sea Grant College Program
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Spatial processes and management of marine populations
First page 431
Last page 445
Public Comments Part of University of Alaska Sea Grant College Program Report No. AK-SG-01-02
Conference Title 17th Lowell Wakefield Symposium: Spatial Processes and Management of Marine Populations
Conference Location Anchorage, AK
Conference Date October 27-30, 1999
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