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Chionoecetes opilio:   (click for more)

Chionoecetes opilio:   (click for more)

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  • Cancer phallangium  O. Fabricius, 1780
  • Cancer opilio  O. Fabricius, 1788, (original description).
  • Chionoecetes opilio  Kröyer, 1838
  • Chionoecetes behringianus  Stimpson, 1857
  • Peloplastus pallasii  Gerstaecker, 1856
  • Chionoecetes chilensis  Streets, 1870
  • Chionoecetes opilio elongatus  Rathbun, 1924
    FAO Names
    En - Queen crab, Fr - Crabe des neiges, Sp - Cangrejo de las nieves.
    3Alpha Code: CRQ     Taxonomic Code: 2312114501
    Diagnostic Features
    Carapace nearly as wide as long, with moderately calcified integument presenting tubercles and hooked setae; rostrum horizontal, short and wide with two flat-pointed horns separated by a gap. Shallow open orbits with a dorsal fisure having a triangular spine. Gastric region depressed and well separated from the branchial region. Postero-lateral border with parallel grooves and edge rows of granules interrupted at intestinal region. First 3 walking legs compressed, with long merus, clearly longer than chelipeds. Chelipeds slender, shorter or equal in lenght to walking legs.  Colour brownish to light brick-red above, often iridescent, below yellowish-white; sides of feet shining white. 
    Geographical Distribution

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    Western Atlantic from Greenland, Newfoundland to the Gulf of Maine. Noth Pacific: from Arctic Alaska westward to northern Siberia and southward through the Bering Strait to the Aleutian Islands, Kamchatka, Okhotsk, Japan and Korea. Rathbun (1924) recognized a different subespecies (Chionoecetes opilio elongatus) from the Pacific (see remarks).
    Habitat and Biology
    A benthicshelf and upper slope species, inhabiting sand or muddy bottoms over depths ranging between 20-1200 m, with higher abundance from 70-280 m in the Atlantic populations.Minimum size of maturity: 51 mm CW (carapace width) for males; 41 mm CW for females. Males and females are segregated over most of the year, males occurring on mud bottoms in deep waters whereas females occurr on sand-graverl or rocky bottoms shallower.
    High reproductive potential: 100% of females carrying eggs each year. Synchronism between the bottom deposition of phytodetritus and larval release was experimentally demonstrated in this species.  Feeding on a wide variety of benthic invertebrates: crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, amphipods, isopods), bivalves, brittle stars, polychaetes, etc. Small specimens consume phytobenthos and foraminiferans.
    CW of males reaching 150 mm and 90 mm for females. Common range sizes between 89-140 mm cw (males) and 55-86 mm cw (females).
    Interest to Fisheries
    Caught commercially with traps, although in origin by trawling as by-catch in groundfish fisheries. Fishery areas in the south and west of St. Lawrence Bay, and east and southeast of Newfounland and southern Labrador. Fisheries since 1960 peaking in 1982 and 1983 (47000 and 37000 t respectively). The effects of directing the fishery exclusively at males larger than 95 mm CW on the snow crab population are not yet fully understood. The total catch reported for this species to FAO for 1999 was 95 704 t. The countries with the largest catches were Canada (95 115 t) and St. Pierre and Miquelon (589 t).
    Local Names
    English : Snow crab ,  Tanner crab .
    French : Crabe des neiges .
    German : Schneekrabbe ,  Kurzschwanz-krebs .
    Japanese : Zuwai-gani .
    Russian : Krab streegoon .
    Polish : Krab .
    Spanish : Cangrejo .
    Rathbun (1924) recognized a different subespecies (Chionoecetes opilio elongatus) from the Pacific that could be considered as a gemminate species of C. opilio (Squires, 1990). Both forms should be separate geographical distributions, and they are distinguished by variations in the lenght and width of legs, especially the merus (see Rathbun, 1925). Other species (Chionoecetes bairdi), inhabiting the same Pacific area than C. opilio ( elongatus), is distinguished by its broader than long carapace.
    Comeau, M., G.Y. Conan, F. Maynou, G. Robichaud, J.-C. Therriault & M. Starr1998Growth, spatial distribution, and abundance of benthic stages of the snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) in Bonne Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci.  55: 262-279.
    Elner, R.W. 1985.  Crabs of the Atlantic coast of Canada. .  DFO Underwater World Factsheet UW/43. 
    Rathbun, M.J. 1925.  The spider crabs of America. .  Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C. 613 p.
    Sakai, T. 1976.  Crabs of Japan and the adjacent seas. .  Kodansha Ltd. Tokyo773 pp.
    Squires, H.J.1990Decapoda Crustacea of the Atlantic Coast of Canada. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic sciences.  221:532 p.
    Starr, M., J.C. Therriault, G.Y. Conan, M. Comeau & G. Robichaud. 1994Larval release in a sub-euphotic zone invertebrate triggered by sinking phytoplankton particles. Journal of Plankton Research.  16: 1137-1147 pp.
    Taylor, D.M., R.G. Hooper & G.P. Ennis -1985 Biological aspects of snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, in Bonne Bay, Newfoundland (Canada).Fishery Bulletin.  83: 707-711 pp.
    Vera, J. -1992 Diccionario multilingüe de especies marinas para el mundo hispano.Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación. Secretaria General Técnica.  1282 pp.
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