Friday, November 4, 2011


What's BKC, you ask? Why, it's today's Crabday friend:

Blue King Crab
Paralithodes platypus

The blue king crab (BKC) is called P. platypus because it is the one crab that has webbed dactyls and a duck bill:

Ha, no. No, that's not true. You got me!

BKC range throughout the Bering Sea and down through southeast Alaska. In Juneau, they like to hang out by bronze statues of Alaskan fish and kelp.

nice spines!

Whoa, no! That's not true either! That "crab" is really our artsy BKC geneticist Jen Stoutamore, donning her AMAZING Halloween costume. She loves blues as much as I love opies, if you can believe it!

not a P. platypus but a creative H. sapiens

OK, so seriously, BKC are an important crab in Alaska. They've had several fisheries opened and closed throughout their range. Most notably, the Pribilof Island fishery was closed in 1999, which affects other fisheries that may scoop up blues as bycatch. Because of their population declines, there's been quite a bit of research on 'em popping up: remember these SFOS students' presentations from here?

true blue from Saint Matthew

One population of BKC is all the way up in the Bering Strait, chillin' around Little Diomede Island and King Island (off the Seward Peninsula). That's where Heidi Herter et al. and friends recently looked at size and fecundity of male and female P. platypus.

Alaska with Little Diomede and King Island under the yellow star
and the Pribilof Islands under the dark blue star

They found that these more northerly crabs were smaller than their Pribilof counterparts (which we've seen with snow crabs here), and as such, the females produced less eggs and subsequently released fewer larvae. Interestingly, the decrease in numbers from eggs to larvae (not all embryos make it to the larval stage) was similar between Pribilof BKC and Bering Strait BKC (32% and 30%, respectively).

Oh, BKC, you never fail to amaze me!
(Remember this guy and his eelpout friend from this post?)

Read more:
Herter, H., B. Daly, J. S. Swingle, and C. Lean. 2011. Morphometrics, fecundity, and hatch timing of blue king crabs (Paralithodes platypus) from the Bering Strait, Alaska, USA. Journal of Crustacean Biology 31: 304-312.

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