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Mating of Snow Crab Chionoecetes Opilio (Ο. Fabricius, 1788) (Decapoda, Majidae) in the Fjord of Bonne Bay, Newfoundland

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Pairs of male and female snow crabs, Chionoecetes opilio, in mating courtship embrace were collected by SCUBA diving between 1984 and 1991, and with tangle nets between 1987 and 1993 in the Bonne Bay fjord, Newfoundland. A Nephrops trawl was also used to study the snow crab population size structure between 1988 and 1993. Males in mating courtship embrace were all identified as hard-shell morphometrically mature. Although large hard-shell juvenile males were present in the population, they did not participate in the reproduction. Comparison of the size structure of males in mating pairs and in the population also show that small mature male crabs can be excluded from mating by larger dominant mature males. The size structure between females in mating pairs and in the population was not significantly different. A depth segregation by size on the very steep slope of the fjord was observed for male snow crabs in mating pairs, as smaller males were found above 50 m. There was no correlation between male and female size in mating couples, but males were always larger than females. We conclude that there is a strong intra-specific competition between males during mating in nature.

Affiliations: 1: Gulf Fisheries Centre, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Science Branch, Maritime Region Gulf Fisheries, P.O. Box 5030, Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 9B6, Canada; 2: Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, Ministère des Pêches et des Ocans, Région Laurentienne, Division de la Productivité des Océans, C.P. 1000, Mont-Joli, Québec G5H 3Z4, Canada; 3: ) Institut National de Recherche Halieutique, 2 Rue Tiznit, Casablanca 20000, Maroc


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