Summer/Fall 2022 ~ Newsletter
The summer wrapped up and fall was kicked off with a PCRG meeting on 9/13 to share working group and community updates. See the highlights below!
Larval Crab Monitoring
In Washington, 18 sites deployed light traps to monitor for larval Dungeness crab for the 2022 season. Some of these sites were new this year and others were returning for their 4th or even 5th year! After nearly 5 months of continuous sampling, light traps were removed from the water in September and data entry has begun with the goal that we will be able to share the observations from this past year at our winter PCRG meeting. Stay tuned!
In British Columbia, 20 sites piloted the same protocol for larval crab monitoring, led by the Hakai Institute's new Sentinels of Change program. With more than 200 volunteers, 13,168 fishing hours, and nearly 20,000 Dungeness megalopae caught, their learning year was a great success! During the off season, the teams from WA and BC will work together to trouble shoot common equipment issues and continue to improve data collection protocols.
Finally, the Larval Crab technical team has been exploring a new potential data entry method for the 2023 season: a Survey123 online/mobile form. The group has been weighing the pros and cons of this type of system and beta-testing the form's capabilities (see images below). The larger Larval Crab Working Group will be asked to provide feedback in the coming months and determine if they would like to move towards using this type of electronic data submission systems. Again, stay tuned!!
(*note that you may see an error sign if you open the survey in a web browser, just say 'Ok')
A new type of crab data started being collected this summer at a subset of larval crab monitoring stations in WA -- Dungeness megalopae samples for genetics analysis! Dr. Jay Dimond from Western Washington University is leading this effort to compare the genetics of Dungeness crab occurring across Puget Sound. Additional funding from the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy program beginning this fall will allow for two more years of larval crab genetics testing, in addition to adult crab genetics analysis!
Fishery Independent Survey
Technical leads Matt Nelson (Swinomish), Katelyn Bosley and Daniel Sund (WDFW) have been hard at work this year analyzing data to evaluate the effectiveness of open vs. closed door and 3 vs. 4 door crab pots for gathering holistic population data, with the goal of establishing a standardized protocol for surveying adult Dungeness crab. They have found that closed door pots are more effective at catching male, female and sub-adult crab than open pots, and that there is no significant difference in catch between 3 and 4 door Trilogy pots. They also looked for any avoidance behavior by sub-legal or female crab and found none. They hope to write up their findings in a technical note and will solicit feedback from the larger working group. So again (its becoming a pattern), stay tuned!
Crabber and Scientist Exchange
A synthesis of the conversation at the first CASE meeting in April is now available here. Check it out!
South Sound Resiliency
In August, 22 folks met at UW Tacoma for an all day workshop to 1) develop a conceptual model of the potential drivers and pressures of Dungeness crab decline in south Puget Sound and 2) discuss specific research projects to be pursued in the region. This conceptual model will continue to be developed in the coming months and a draft will be shared with the larger group at the winter PCRG meeting to solicit feedback. Identified research leads will be reaching out to interested partners in the coming months to start drafting project proposals!
Swinomish Intertidal - Molt Hunts!
Biologists at Swinomish Indian Tribal Community have developed a new method for collecting data on Dungeness crab during their adolescent stage (before they are typically caught in crab pots) - community science molt hunts! Volunteers walk beaches looking for Dungeness crab shells (i.e. molts), measure the shell size and report those numbers. This information is helpful in understanding the growth of crab throughout their lives and assessing preferred habitat. For anyone interested in learning more about Swinomish's protocol, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!