Growth of juvenile blue crabs,Callinectes sapidus

FASANO, C.*; QUACKENBUSH, L.S.: Growth of juvenile blue crabs,Callinectes sapidus.

In North Carolina’s Cape Fear River estuary, juvenile blue crabs are often found in sand and mud habitats far beyond the mouth of the estuary. Predators, prey availability or other factors, may drive the crabs’ invasion of the low salinity portions of the estuary. We also expected that there would be consequences on the growth rates of these juvenile blue crabs. We collected small (8-22 mm) juvenile crabs at the mouth of the estuary and monitored their growth over several molt cycles in a controlled lab environment. The smallest blue crabs had the largest growth rates, these rates slowed as the crabs increased in size. Crabs growing at three different salinities had about equal growth rates, and equal molt cycle durations, but significant differences in the number of molts completed. It appears that low salinity areas are suitable for rapid crab growth, when other factors are controlled. Supported by the CRUI program grant : DBI: 99-78613 from the National Science Foundation.

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