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Effects of starvation and stocking density on the physiology of the male of the southern king crab Lithodes santolla

Sacristán, Hernán Javier, Di Salvatore, Pablo, Fernández-Gimenez, Analía Verónica, Lovrich, Gustavo Alejandro
Fisheries research 2019 v.218 pp. 83-93
Lithodes santolla, carboxylic ester hydrolases, crabs, enzyme activity, food deprivation, glycogen, lipid peroxidation, lipids, males, marketing, midgut, mortality, muscles, oxidation, physiological state, starvation, stocking rate, summer, South America
The southern king crab (SKC) Lithodes santolla is an important commercial species in southern South America. There is a greater need for availability of fresh and live crabs during the season of highest demand in summer (mainly December and January). Thus, this study aimed to determine the effects of starvation and stocking densities on the physiological status of male SKC to know whether SKC can be stocked after they are fished. To assess the effects of starvation, crabs were assigned to two experimental groups: the Laboratory group (in which crabs were either fed daily (controls), fed every 15 days, or starved and the Sea group (in which crabs were either fed every 15 days or starved). Starved crabs showed a very slight mass reduction (<5%), glycogen depletion from the midgut gland (when kept at sea), lipid peroxidation reduction in both the muscle and the midgut gland, and micro-structural alterations of the midgut gland. Starved crabs were then analyzed at three stocking density levels: low (35 crabs m−3), medium (69 crabs m−3), and high (115 crabs m−3) for 30 days. In this experiment, we found, at all densities, a decreased weight of the midgut gland, a low condition index, decreased lipase activity, glycogen reduction, increased protein reserves, and lipid peroxidation reduction, and decreased lipid levels at low and medium densities. The muscle showed, at all densities, an increased protein oxidation and a decrease in the RNA:DNA ratio. Our results suggest that SKC can tolerate relatively high stocking densities, have low mortality, and are able to endure 60 days of food deprivation without lowering their flesh yield. This would allow marketing crabs alive off-season.