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N. Oregon Coast Facility May Have Two Scientific
|All photos Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium:
This may be the first photo of a scarlet king crab larvae. Boothe
photographed this through a microscope.
(Seaside, Oregon) – One kind of rarely seen crab
may make the Seaside Aquarium famous for a couple of scientific firsts.
It appears as if the facility in the north Oregon coast
resort town of Seaside may have the first pictures of young from a scarlet
king crab, and it certainly appears to be the first ever to try and raise
the larvae from the deep-dwelling crab.
Not much is even known about the scarlet king crab –
unlike its brothers and sisters in the blue, red and golden king crab
species – because it often lives deeper than 3,000 feet. Consequently,
they aren’t seen very often, and their larvae apparently even much
After the Seaside
Aquarium received a scarlet king crab female in January from a fisherman
who accidentally caught it, they discovered it would soon give birth to
thousands of larvae. When the tiny little critters starting popping out
– to the tune of as many as 5,000 – they started doing research
and discovered that no one else has photographed the larvae, much less
tried to raise the young.
|Close-up of scarlet king crab larvae
Tiffany Boothe with the Aquarium said she’s double-checked
her own research with numerous experts around the nation, and so far they’ve
all come back and not only reiterated that no one else they know of has
photographed the larvae, but said they were quite impressed with that
They’ve also said they didn’t know of anyone
else who had ever had the chance to even raise these creatures.
One of those was Dr. Bradley G. Stevens, Associate Professor
at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, who conducted a study on this
kind of crab a few years ago for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
|The Seaside Aquarium's scarlet king crab
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“Well, that may be the first photograph of a scarlet
king crab larvae,” Dr. Stevens said in an email to Boothe. He also
indicated his own crew of researchers have never been able to even find
them in a plankton tow – which is when scientists take a fine mesh
net to catch plankton.
Also responding favorably were two researchers from Alaska,
including one from the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks School of
Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.
“Pretty cool,” Boothe said of her affirmations.
It’s also the first time the Seaside Aquarium has
ever had a scarlet king crab on display. It may be a first for any aquarium
in the northwest as well.
|Eggs from the scarlet king crab
“I talked to our contact at the Seattle Aquarium,
and he said as far as he knew they’ve never had one there,”
The scarlet king crab was delivered to the aquarium on
January 23 by a crewmember of the Captain Ryan.
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“Ellen Langevin works on the Captain Ryan,”
Boothe said. “She aided in keeping the crab alive while it was on
the boat. It was bycatch, so they normally throw that stuff back in the
ocean. She noticed it, separated it from the rest and put it in a holding
tank for a few days.”
The Captain Ryan – based out of the north coast -
was fishing off the Oregon coast when it caught the creature.
|Ellen Langevin, who found the crab at sea
in January, poses with the crab tank
“This crab was full of fertilized eggs and on March
6 begun releasing larvae,” Boothe said. “The relatively large
larvae resemble small transparent shrimp. Typically it takes about one
year for a king crab’s eggs to mature. Once they are released the
small swimming larvae will stay in the water column.
Its low population density and body size are prohibitive
to making it a commercial catch, but its meat is especially tasty, according
Scarlet king crabs occupy depths in range from 800 to 6,000
|The aquarium was the first to successfully
breed harbor seals back in the 50's
Boothe said it will likely shoot out 2500 to 5,000 larvae.
This process can be seen by the public. Periodically, tiny, white roundish
objects will emerge from the crab as she’s lounging around her tank.
Boothe’s cultivation efforts include keeping the
brood in two different holding tanks, but it’s extremely challenging.
She’s been getting advice from numerous agencies on how to take
care of these – even though none of them have actually done it before.
Many, though, have raised the larvae of other types of king crabs.
“They undergo three distinct stages before settling
down to the bottom of the ocean,” Boothe said.
The crab arrived there quite healthy, thanks to Langevin’s
efforts, but it was touch and go for a while.
first, we didn’t know it would survive,” Boothe said. “There’s
a lot of issues when dealing with a deep sea organism like this, because
they’re used to higher pressures and to colder water temperatures.”
Because the larvae also live so deep, this presents numerous
potential problems for raising these to maturity over the next year –
if that even works. Boothe isn’t optimistic it will. The Seaside
Aquarium may preserve a few of the larvae and put those on display.
One interesting aspect to their life cycle is that they
larvae apparently don’t need to eat for the first two months. They
are born with a yolk sack in their bodies, which they feed off of for
“Now I need to find a teeny tiny measuring
tape to measure those guys,” she said.
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here for video of Dec. storm aftermath
Coast Best of Awards for the Year And the winners
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in nature and stunning moments for 2007
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Cool Ideas for Oregon Coast Romance Be it the season
of Valentine's or be it any time of the year, Oregon's coastline has
essentially cornered the market for cuddle-inducing possibilities and
gushy activities for the hand-holding set
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports
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