Volume 69

Cascading Effects of the Caribbean King Crab, Maguimithrax spinosissimus, on Coral Patch Reef Communities in the Florida Keys

Spadaro, A.J., and M.J. Butler
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Date: November, 2016

Pages: 280

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty eigth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Grand Cayman

Country: Cayman Islands


The Caribbean King Crab, Maguimithrax spinosissimus, is the largest brachyuran in the Western Atlantic Ocean, with males reaching sizes in excess of 180 mm carapace width (CW) and more than 3 kg. Interestingly, macroalgae and algal turfs comprise the bulk of the species’ natural diet. Indeed, M. spinosissimus is a prodigious consumer of benthic macroal-gae on coral reefs where its grazing rates meet or exceed those of every species of parrotfish in the Caribbean region, the only exception being the terminal phase of the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride. With a largely herbivorous diet, rapid growth to a large adult size, and a short (4 - 6 day) larval duration, M. spinosissimus exhibits all of the hallmarks of an excellent candidate for commercial mariculture. There are several small fisheries around the Caribbean, though these crabs are nocturnal and as a cryptic and largely herbivorous species, they do not lend well to a trap-based fishery. Thus, there have been a number of attempts to farm the species commercially, though, to the best of our knowledge, no commercial-scale mariculture operations currently exist for the Caribbean King Crab.

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