the F/V Seabrooke crew
It was so great to have the opportunity to talk about crabs (be still my little heart) and answer snow crab questions in real time!
just some of the gabbing
and you know my avatar was a Fox!
So you don't feel left out, here are some of the topics covered with some links to my answers:
1. How old can snow crabs get?
This was a tricky one since it is really hard to age crabs. But there are estimates that they can live between 4 to 8 years after their terminal molt (at most... barring any predation). We learned about the terminal molt here, and we saw a SUPER old (8 1/2 years old) female here.
the old lady herself
2. How do snow crabs reproduce and how many babies can they have?
Oh man, can I talk about opie reproduction! All day, any day! Snow crabs aren't broadcast spawners; they actually copulate so that the males can deposit spermatophores (packets of sperm) into the female's spermatheca (pockets for sperm, you could say). Learn more about their anatomy here. And watch some mating experiment videos here and here. It's estimated that from all that mating, females can produce and fertilize over 80,000 eggs per clutch!
a big male grasping his little lady before sealing the deal
3. Do different crabs get it on, aka hybridize?
You know it! Snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio and Tanner crabs Chionoecetes bairdi make hybrid babies, who can then produce offspring of their own! Read more about hybrids in these posts.
male bairdi + female opilio = Chionoecetes hybrid
I feel bad because after reading through the conversation there were a lot of questions I missed, like do whales/walruses eat crabs? I'm hoping to participate in the chat room again, and until then I'll try and answer some questions I missed in future posts.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the chat and thanks to Helen Green Ruckman for allowing me to talk about snow crabs with you all!