Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896) Settlement at Three Georgia (USA) Estuarine Sites
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- Bishop, T.D., Miller, H.L., Walker, R.L. et al. Estuaries and Coasts (2010) 33: 688. doi:10.1007/s12237-009-9259-4
The blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896, represents the second most important fishery for coastal Georgia; yet, little is known about environmental forces that affect planktonic postlarval settlement in the region. Here, we describe a study to examine the physical mechanisms responsible for blue crab settlement in the extensive salt marsh system of coastal Georgia. Bottom and surface samplers were placed at three sites along a salinity gradient from a low-salinity site in the Altamaha River to a high-salinity area of the Duplin River, Sapelo Island, GA, USA during 2005. Megalopae and juvenile monitoring occurred from July through December. The majority of both megalopae (86.8%) and juvenile (89.3%) blue crabs were recovered in bottom samplers at the low-salinity Altamaha River site during August and early September. Few megalopae were collected at the surface of the Altamaha River or at the two higher-salinity sites in the Duplin and North Rivers. Downwelling winds were unable to explain all settlement events; however, winds with an onshore component regularly preceded settlement events. The use of a multiple-regression model revealed a lagged relationship (r = 0.5461, \( lag = 0–2 days \)) between wind events, temperature, salinity, maximum tidal height, and settlement.