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Red King Crab
Photo: Hjelset
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Counting king crabs on video

Preliminary results from this year’s crab survey in Finnmark suggest that there are fewer large king crabs than previously observed. This year, in order to obtain a more reliable estimate of the size of the population, scientists started using underwater video cameras to increase the number of areas observed.

By Beate Hoddevik Sunnset

A final estimate of the population will be presented close to November 15. The number of large king crabs observed last year was also lower than normal.

A more reliable estimate

- The video rig will become an important supplement to trawling and crab pots, which are the methods we have previously used. Large areas of the sea bottom cannot be trawled, but many of those areas can be surveyed with the new rig, explains Jan H. Sundet, one of the scientists involved in testing the equipment on this year’s expedition. This year it will already be possible to use data collected by the new video rig in estimating the king crab stock, which should hopefully make the estimate more reliable.

Trawling will continue

Although the video rig will be fully up and running from next year, researchers will still continue trawling as well. It takes a long time to drag the video rig along the sea bottom, and it also covers a smaller area than a trawl. Consequently it cannot replace trawling, but it will be used in areas that cannot be trawled, which were previously impossible to survey.

Facts about Red King Crab

Latin name: Paralithodes camtschaticus
Natural Distribution: Bering Sea, Okhotsk Sea, and the North Pacific
Distribution in Barents Sea: Along coastal waters and tributaries in the southern region of the Barents Sea, at depths ranging from 5 to 400 m depending on time of year
Maximum size: Rarely exceeds 8 kg / 23 cm (carapace length in Norwegian waters)
Diet: Bottom species, plants

Red King Crab