Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Bulletin of Marine Science
The present study examined the hypothesis that mature female blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, do not enter a terminal anecdysis. Induced molting via eyestalk ablation, size frequency distributions, gonad development and limb regeneration indices from field collected animals are used as indicators of potential post maturity molts. Eyestalk ablation of 15mature females resulted in ecdysis in II individuals approximately 51 days (standard error = 0.64) after ablation, indicating a physiological ability of mature females to complete ecdysis. Analysis of size frequency distributions from catch data indicated two distinct shifts from smaller to larger females, one in early spring and a second in early fall. While migration of larger females into the study area cannot be ruled out, the data suggest molting activity within the sample population. Within the field sample, 11.2% of the animals had regenerating limb buds (R-value = 0.5-5.4). Formation of limb buds is not encountered in species known to have a terminal molt at maturity. These observations suggest that female blue crabs may enter a diapause stage at maturity and some may undergo an additional molt after maturity.
Havens, Kirk J. and Mcconaugha, JR, Molting In The Mature Female Blue-Crab, Callinectes-sapidus Rathbun (1990). Bulletin of Marine Science, 46(1), 37-47.