Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anchorage Crab Extravaganza!

Last week 2 weeks ago (time flies!) I attended the 2014 Alaska Marine Science Symposium, and boy was it crab-tastic! I went to present a couple posters on my work with the Gulf of Alaska Project (my portion is studying baby fish body condition), but you better believe I stopped at all the crab posters I could find!

Here's a run-down of some of the neat crabby things I learned:

Snow crabs are loving detritus up in the arctic! Lauren Divine looked at Chionoecetes opilio stomach contents from crabs collected in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Along with detritus, crabs were eating polychaetes, bivalves, brittle stars (you can see a pile of them from this post), and other crabs including opies!

Lauren showing off her poster and special friend

that's a larger-than-life snow crab ready to show you...

...its stomach contents!

Alaska Department of Fish and Game is mapping Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) habitat to better understand their distribution off of Kodiak. The fun part of this: underwater pictures of crabs in action!

(download the abstracts here)

Ocean acidification will affect larval Tanner crabs as the ocean's pH drops. Here's Chris Long presenting his work where they exposed brooding females to different levels of pH (the lower the pH, the more "acidified" the water is). The greatest effect was toward larval survival. He also gave a talk on how a similar experiment affected the embryos of Tanner crabs (there's a difference... I can explain further if you'd like) and they weren't doing too well either.

over-achiever: giving a poster presentation AND a talk!

Remember how I said aging crabs was near-impossible? Alexei Pinchuk, Ginny Eckert, and Rodger Harvey are out to prove me wrong!

"Development of Biochemical Measures of Age in the Alaskan Red King Crab:
Towards Quantifying Thermal Effect on Aging"

Last but not least, I learned about ZOMBIE CRABS!!! (No, not these zombie crabs.) Leah Sloan, a UAF grad student, is looking at the distribution of that nasty parasite, the rhizocephalan, and how it may be affected by temperature. The infected king crabs she's studying are referred to as 'zombie crabs' because their bodies have basically been hijacked by the parasite to be a walking, eating, parasite-brooding machine! She's answering her temperature question by exposing larval rhizocephalans (aka parasitic barnacles) to different temperatures and tracking their survival. I'll interview her soon for an "Ask a Grad Student" post so we can all learn more.

she had me at "Zombie"!

I took so many other crab notes, so we'll see if I can share them all with you over the next... year!?!? By then I'll be ready for another round of Marine Science Symposium fun!

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