Pond production of prepeeler, peeler and softshell blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) Rathbun, using brushposts and brushlines for harvest.
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Seven separate experiments were conducted, using nonpeeler blue crabs stocked into two 0.1 ha ponds at a Texas power plant site. Investigations focused on comparing brushpots and brushlines for the selective removal of premolt and softshell blue crabs for use in a shedding facility. Most of the crabs labeled at stocking molted, with an average of only 4.08% of those in the first six experiments, and 28.08% of those in the last experiment still labeled at harvest. The ratio of the actual harvest to the estimated number of blue crabs alive at harvest, averaged 50.7% (range 41.60-71.05%). High stocking rates resulted in harvested crabs showing a significant decrease in body weight per unit increase in carapace width when compared to wild crabs. The mean increase in carapace width (CW) and body weight for (100-169 mm CW) male blue crabs prior to molting was 20.16% (range 8.95-29.27%) and 61.20% (range 34.10-92.08%), respectively. The mean increase in carapace width and body weight for (100-129 mm CW) female blue crabs during their terminal molt was 33.47% (range 28.62-40.63%) and 68.25% (range 60.24-84.07%), respectively. Between 130-139 mm CW there was a sharp increase in the percent of mature females, with at least 76% of the females in size classes over 134 mm CW mature. At harvest, all of the stocked labeled blue crabs that did not shed were at least 130 mm CW. The catch rate of premolt and softshell blue crabs was significantly increased by both stocking 102-178 mm CW blue crabs compared to stocking 127-178 mm CW blue crabs, and brush sampling every 2 hours compared to daily brush sampling. The proportion of premolt and softshell blue crab catch to the total number recovered in the brush (brushpots and brushlines) was significantly higher for females compared to males for the three pond 18 experiments combined. Young of the year striped mullet, averaging 33.02 g. and 118.55 mm TL, in 287 days grew to an average of 600.63 g. and 303.08 mm TL and became sexually mature.