Marine Life Center

State-of-the-Art Marine Hatchery for Blue Crabs

The Gulf Coast Marine Life Center’s University partner, University of Maryland Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology’s Aquaculture Research Center (ARC), has unique expertise and facilities for broodstock, hatchery and juvenile production of blue crabs. ARC is a 1,800-square-meter, state-of-the-art, environmentally responsible marine core facility that operates on recirculating artificial seawater. The Gulf Coast Marine Life Center will implement and build upon their infrastructure and technologies to successfully mass-produce blue crab juveniles for stock enhancement efforts along the Gulf coast region.

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Blue Crab hatchery juveniles
Courtesy University of Maryland

Over the past 12 years, the University of Maryland has developed technologies and protocols for closing the life cycle of blue crabs in captivity; spawn females, efficiently grow larvae, producing hundreds of thousands of hatchery juvenile crabs. Using these juveniles, they developed modern and responsible strategies for blue crab stock restoration and enhancement in the Chesapeake Bay, which can be replicated along the Gulf Coast of the United States.

The University of Maryland (ARC) has published abundant amount of information on the effective stock enhancement, including releasing large batches of individually tagged juvenile hatchery crab and monitoring them through DNA fingerprinting as well as developing optimal release strategies. Studies leading to a better understanding of the Blue Crab biology and life cycle are helping wildlife officials develop new policies for managing this economically vital fishery.

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Blue Crab

The Gulf Coast Marine Life Center has implemented a 5,000 sqft. blue crab broodstock, hatchery and nursery production facility into its building plans. A live feeds area for the production of rotifers and artemia is vital for the nutrition, health, and growth of the blue crabs being reared at the GCMLC, thus a 1,000 sqft. area will be dedicated for culturing live feeds for the GCMLC blue crabs. Production estimates from the GCMLC for juvenile blue crabs are estimated at 1,000,000 juveniles per year, which can be provided for restoration programs along the Gulf of Mexico coast.