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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Examination of mouth parts is a standard method for determining the position in the molt cycle of individual male snow crabs. We showed that the color of the carapace can also be used to determine whether a crab is about to molt. A third, destructive, method is to tear off the dorsal carapace and look for the presence of a second carapace. During a bottom trawl survey in April 1991 in Conception Bay, Newfoundland, we found that green carapace color and a well-developed second carapace were strongly correlated and each was strongly associated with mouthpart classification D, or above. During a subsequent trap survey in May 1991, we found crabs with the normal reddish coloration that had seemingly partially formed second carapaces and mouthparts in the C or D0 stage. However, further work is necessary to describe and validate the early stages of carapace formation. We concluded that the collection of crabs with a green carapace is a viable way to obtain crabs for growth studies, because they will molt in the near future, thus minimizing effects of captivity. We collected 79 green crabs and maintained them in the laboratory until they molted. All but one molted within 24 days of capture. Growth per molt was similar to that estimated for another Newfoundland snow crab population, based on the same approach, but was greater than earlier estimates derived from longer-term laboratory studies.


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