We had a lot of support from the red king crab fishermen and observers! When a tagged crab comes up in a crab pot, the boat captain and crew help us out by releasing the crab back into the ocean. They have also provided the capture coordinates and tag number. This adds to the dataset we have from the Saildrone on crab movement!
When a science project is just about over, I always feel like that is when the real work begins. I have lots of data on crab movements. Now, it’s time to figure out what it all means!
The legal-sized Bristol Bay red king crab population is the lowest it has been since 1985 so there is a lot of concern that the fishery will have to close soon. The problem is compounded because it doesn’t seem like there are many youngsters ready to fill in the void.
I hope that by understanding where these crab live and how they move through the seasons, we will be able to protect them and their habitat in the future. For now I will leave them to their crabby ways. We’ll check back in on them in the early spring when the drones are sent out again to see where they have wondered.