We studied the distribution of the “bitter-crab” syndrome, a disease caused by the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp., in eight commercial species of crabs in the west of the Bering and Chukchi seas. The crabs (25 388 individuals) were sampled during bottom trawl surveys of July‒September 2010 and October‒November 2012. The disease was first identified visually by a color change of the exoskeleton and the hemolymph of the animals and then using microscope analysis of hemolymph samples. Infestation was detected in crabs of three species, Chionoecetes opilio, C. bairdi, and Paralithodes platypus. The prevalence of the disease (the percent of infected individuals relative to all of those examined) in C. bairdi and P. platypus was very low, 0.1 and 0.3%, respectively. Infestation was widespread among C. opilio, its peak in the Bering Sea was in the fall. The average prevalence of the crab disease in different areas of the Bering Sea ranged from 0.8 to 10.8%. A high rate of crab infection was recorded in the Korfa Bay. In the Chukchi Sea, the average prevalence was 2%. Infestation by Hematodinium sp. was not revealed in the deep-sea snow crabs Chionoecetes tanneri and C. angulatus, and in three species of lithodid crabs, Paralithodes camtschaticus, P. brevipes, and Lithodes couesi. This can be explained by the small sample volume and/or ecology of these species, since the disease was registered in other areas in four of them.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 4, 2016
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