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Shellfish Assessment Program

Shellfish Assesssment Biologists conduct a wide range of research on various fish, crab, and shellfish species native to Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea waters. Program research efforts are coordinated between two facilities, the AFSC's Kodiak Laboratory at the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center in Kodiak, AK and the NOAA Western Regional Center in Seattle, WA.

AFSC Kodiak Laboratory
Kodiak Fisheries Research Center
301 Research Court
Kodiak, AK 99615

AFSC Fisheries Resources Pathobiology
NOAA Western Regional Center
7600 Sand Point Way N.E.
Seattle, WA 98115-6349

Kodiak Shellfish Research

Photo of red king crab.

A significant focus of Shellfish Assessment scientists at the Kodiak Laboratory is the annual crab/groundfish surveys, which assess the distribution and abundance of various commercially important crab and groundfish resources in the eastern Bering Sea. A key product of the surveys is the annual Bering Sea Crab Survey Report, which is used to both aid the fishing industry in locating productive fishing grounds and help Crab Fisheries Management regulate takes to improve viability of future stocks.

In addition, a variety of other major research activities take place both in the field and laboratory. The seawater laboratory allows studies on various species of crab, currently golden king crab, and fish to further our knowledge of their life history and reproduction. A collaborative crab enhancement project is underway to study if red and blue king crab larvae can be raised under hatchery conditions.

Fisheries Resources Pathobiology

Microscope photo of crab tissue sample showing heavy infestation of Hematodinium parasite.

Pathobiologists at the AFSC's headquarters in Seattle, Washington investigate the biology and life history of disease pathogens and parasites that can afflict important fish and crab species. More...

Research on the life history of the blood parasite, Hematodinium, which afflicts Tanner and snow crabs, is one example. The effects of Hematodinium on crabs is commonly known as Bitter Crab Syndrome, due to the very bitter taste that infected crabs have if their meat is cooked and eaten. Although harmless to humans, evidence suggests that Hematodinium is 100% fatal for crabs infected with this parasite. The picture at right is a crab gill tissue section stained with Hematoxylin and Eosin showing heavy infection of Hematodinium (the black granular spots).

The Fisheries Resources Pathobiology Team is also actively investigating the potential impacts of parasitism and disease on Steller sea lion populations, and on the recruitment of walleye pollock stocks. More...

  • 2012 EBS crab report (DRAFT) is now available. Go there >>

  • Recent Publications, Poster Presentations, Reports & Activities

    • DALY B. J., C. E. ARMISTEAD, and R. J. FOY. 2016. The 2016 eastern Bering Sea continental shelf bottom trawl survey: Results for commercial crab. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-327, 167 p. (.pdf, 26 MB)  Online.
    • PARTLOW, M., and E. MUNK. 2016. Saffron cod (Eleginus gracilis) in North Pacific archaeology. Alaska J. Anthropol. 13:19-34. 
    • LONG, W. C., and S. B. Van SANT. 2016. Embryo development in golden king crab (Lithodes aequispinus). Fish. Bull., U.S. 114:6776.  Online.
    • LONG, W. C. 2016. A new quantitative model of multiple transitions between discrete stages, applied to the development of crustacean larvae. Fish. Bull., U.S. 114:5866.  Online.
    • Decreased pH Changes Juvenile Blue King Crab Morphology and Decreases Growth and Survival
      Conference:  Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Jan 2016
      (2016 poster, .pdf, 1.16 MB)   Online.

    • A Biophysical Modeling Approach to Understanding Red King Crab Larval Drift in Bristol Bay, Alaska
      Conference:  Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Jan 2016
      (2016 poster, .pdf, 1.28 MB)   Online.


    See the poster and publications databases for additional listings.


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