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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Bimonthly crab trapping and tagging efforts off the central coast of California from August 1976 to April 1981 yielded data on over 9,000 adult Cancer antennarius, the northeastern Pacific rock crab. Female crabs were most abundant during autumn, the period of warmest water temperatures along central California, but males exhibited no clearly defined seasonal abundance trends. Ovigerous females were prevalent during winter, resulting in the subsequent dispersal of pelagic larvae during spring and early summer. Rock crabs attain sexual maturity about 2 years after settlement, at a size of 60-80 mm carapace width. Adult crab growth averages 16.7% in carapace width and 57.7% in body weight after a single molt, with intermolt periods of up to 16 months duration. Maximum size may exceed 150 mm in carapace width and 900 g in body weight after 5 or 6 years making C. antennarius a desirable sport and commercial fishery species. Tag returns averaged 6.3% while tag loss, as detected by a scar on the epimeral suture of recaptured crabs, was 14.4%. Nearly half of all recaptured crabs were recovered at their original release site after 2-18 months, although migratory distances of 7 km were recorded for several individuals.

Affiliations: 1: TERA Corporation, Marine Studies Group, Avila Beach, California 93424.


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