Shrimp (Decapoda, Natantia) occurrence and distribution in the eastern Weddell Sea, Antarctica
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108 successful ground and Agassiz trawl catches were taken between 155 and 2031 m depth in the eastern Weddell Sea on board RV Polarstern in spring and summer (October–February) 1985–1989. In addition, 7 hauls were taken with a semipelagic trawl. Only 19 hauls (16.5%) contained no shrimps. The others yielded large numbers of Notocrangon antarcticus, Chorismus antarcticus, and Nematocarcinus lanceopes as well as 20 Lebbeus antarcticus and 11 specimens of an Eualus species new to science. 8 Pasiphaea scotiae were caught in a pelagic krill trawl. No reptant decapod crustaceans were detected in the study area. Shrimp densities determined from trawl catches were lower than estimates derived from underwater photography but in the same order of magnitude. Although yields of the three common shrimp species in some cases exceeded 20 kg per 0.5 h haul, shrimp stocks in the area cannot be considered to be of commercial significance. A wider geographical distribution and greater frequency of shrimps in high Antarctic waters was found than described hitherto. There was considerable variation in numbers, sex composition, occurrence at different depths, and size-frequency distributions. C. antarcticus and N. antarcticus grow to a larger size compared with individuals from the Antarctic Peninsula area. Within the area of investigation, length frequency distributions are skewed towards larger sizes at higher latitudes. In the eastern Weddell Sea larger specimens of the three common species live at greater depths than smaller individuals. Potential reasons for these differences are discussed.
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