Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Media Crabs

Everyone knows "crab sells", so it's no surprise our little crustacean friends are used in a plethora (yes, I said a plethora) of advertisements. Let's take a look:

Jimmy Dean, using the negative "crabby" stereotype for
its breakfast commercials (which are actually quite funny)

Budweiser with fiddler-type crabs honoring their "crab king"

creepy robotic-style soccer-playin' crabs, clearly donning Nikes

My favorite crab ad:
"I pinch?"

Snow Crab Love does not endorse any of these products. We simply endorse the use of crabs in every way possible!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I should have seen it coming

Born to love crustaceans? I think yes.

mini golfing with my friend Homar

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


No, not a long long way to run. (I'll wait for people to get that. Got it? Good.)

FA stands for farnesoic acid, and I've been running it in the lab to make sure that what I'm looking at in my snow crab hemolymph truly is methyl farnesoate (MF) and not FA. (Remember, MF is a crustacean reproductive hormone. I'm hoping to quantify levels of MF in various groups of snow crab males to see how the terminal molt affects their reproductive physiology.)

FA is the precursor to MF. See how similar they look?

two sesquiterpenoids: MF (top) and FA (bottom)
see how they compare to the insect juvenile hormone III here

For more fun, long, sciencey words: MF comes from FA through the methylation of the latter, which is catalyzed by farnesoic acid O-methyltransferase (FAMeT)! Thrilling I know.

The good news is, after running different levels of FA through the HPLC, I am ever the more confident in my MF results! Yay for anagrams, and yay for me!

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's electric!

Is anybody else singing to themselves with that blog title? No? Just me? Oh well.

So friends, World Oceans Day has come and gone. I hope you had a great day and proudly wore blue for the occasion! This lobster is doing its part with WOD’s motto, “Wear blue, tell two”:

PEI's electric blue lobster

The blue Homarus americanus was caught off of Prince Edward Island (of Green Gables fame) by Blair Doucette. He and his wife are donating "Fluffy" (I couldn't have come up with a better name myself!) to the Rustico Harbour Fishing Museum, so that the lobster can continue spreading the news about World Oceans Day, no doubt.

But how did Fluffy come to be blue? It’s pretty rare (some say 1 in a million, some say 1 in 2 million… who knows? Seriously, do you know? Comment!), but not unheard of. A genetic defect awesome-fect leads to the formation of crustacyanin, the blue carotenoid-protein of the lobster shell, to the max apparently.

Lobsters also come in the multi-colored variety! This asymmetry coincides occasionally with hermaphroditism in lobsters!! Amazing, right? Lobsters can be sexed easily by looking at the first set of pleopods: males have thick, hard appendages (two of ‘em, just like snow crabs!) and females have soft, thin appendages (also 2). In bilateral gynandromorphs, one appendage is thick (male) and the other is thin (female)!

asymmetry in action:
on the left, a lobster giving off the impression of being half-cooked
on the right, the reproductive structures of a female (in pink) and male (in blue)

And guess what: this is also seen in snow crabs!! They end up looking pretty lopsided though, due to their extreme sexual dimorphism of carapace widths:

Chionoecetes opilio male (our left, his right) and female (our right, her left)

Who knew crustaceans could be so cool, right?

Well, keep wearing blue and spreading the good news of crabs and lobsters alike. The last blue lobster to grace Prince Edward Island’s shores was Donald, caught in 2009 and housed at a lobster restaurant (although he was never served on the menu!). We’ll see if another one turns up in 2013!

Yup, he looks like a 'Donald' to me!

Bilateral literature (thanks to Laura Slater, ADF&G, for this info!):
Chace, F. A., and G. M. Moore. 1959. A bicolored gynandromorphy of the lobster, Homarus americanus. The Biological Bulletin 16: 226-231.

Syslo, M., and J. T. Hughes. 1981. Reproductive behavior of a bicolored gynandromorphic American lobster. The Progressive Fish-Culturalist 43: 214-216.

Taylor, D. M. 1986. A bilateral gynanddromorph of the snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, from Newfoundland, Canada. Crustaceana 51: 309-312.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How We Survived a Sea Lion Attack

World Oceans Day is tomorrow!
What will you do to celebrate?

I've been enjoying the ocean's bounty, fishing and spending time with friends on their boat. This was actually yesterday, but we went out with the hopes of catching some salmon. My friends had set some crab pots as well, so we checked on those first:

Smoker family crab pot: Crab On!

a couple legal Dungies (Cancer... oh, excuse me, I mean Metacarcinus magister) = crab cakes!!

Then things took a turn. The engine stopped working, so we were a bit stranded while we called various dads for advice. In the mean time, we were pretty close to Amalga, so the ladies and I figured we could paddle for shore. I swear we were actually making progress!

Courtney giving it the ol' college try

And then things got ugly!

"Oh, hi sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus). How are you?"
(My husband was all excited since he studies these mammals.)

"Hey, you humans! I hate your paddle! What are you doing putting it in my home!?!?"
(Photo credit to my husband on this one!)

"Sorry, we're just trying to get to Amalg.... AHHHHH!"


"Oh man, I could see it's face!"
"It wanted to get in the boat!"
"It wanted to bite some man flesh!"

Seriously, this sea lion hated when Courtney would paddle. It charged the boat several times. Luckily, after we stopped paddling (as to appease the sea lion beast), the engine was miraculously fixed (through some tinkering and the haze of gas fumes). And so, our brave group headed back to safety, alive and in one piece (or five, I guess).

the relieved crew

The End

Friday, June 3, 2011

Get Ready: World Oceans Day 2011

My friends Lindsay and Tim let me in on a not-so-secret secret:

June 8th is World Oceans Day!

Being the marine bio nerd that I am, I was kind of shocked that I didn't know about this day of ocean delight! It has been celebrated every year since 1992 (summer between my 2nd and 3rd grade, so about when I was terrorizing my neighbors as a self-proclaimed "killer walrus" at Crystal Lake's Main Beach). How did I miss this?!?

Don't be like me. Celebrate the ocean!

Celebrate with Seuss: