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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I am currently doing some research on peeler crab behaviour around the UK.

I have a few questions about the general breeding cycle of the shore crab (Carcinus) around the UK, to try and help establish if it has changed at all. A few people I have talked with have said that up north, like here in North Wales and Scotland, the peelers have started peeling earlier, and are common on the shore for more of the year than in previous decades. :g: After trawling ('xcuse the pun) the internet and forums, I figured the best way to get some first hand information was to ask you guys, the reliable anglers out there year in year out, rain or shine, very nicely. Hopefully these questions will only take moments of your time.

Please could you let me know what months of the year you have commonly observed the following (and if you think seasons have changed then please provide old and new seasons, weeks or months):

* roughly when the earliest (male / female?) shore crab peel starts:
Recent Years: (since when if possible)
Past years: (with years if possible)

* copulation: mating belly to belly ('missionary position'), but not carrying!
Recent Years: (since when)
Past years: (with years if possible)

* Females carrying eggs:
Recent Years: (since when)
Past years: (with years if possible)

* Young crabs appearing on beaches:
Recent Years: (since when)
Past years: (with years if possible)

* The area your observations are taken from:

(N.B. I'm not asking anyone to publicise their favourite collecting beaches, just the broad area!!)

I would really appreciate the comments of first hand observers, anonymously or otherwise. Feel free to Private Message me if you would prefer.

Of course I will post again and let you know how it goes.

Thank you,
Liz
 

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the last few years down in cornwall they havent really stopped it slows down a bit from nov to feb but we still get a few i have 100 traps out all year round and normally get 30 each time i dont do them every week they are hidden away from the crab trap thieves so get a few when and if i need them
 

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Think you need to 'gain forums trust' before that info is given up.
Perhaps - what purpose will you use info for?
are you qualified to interpret this information?

Between commercial exploitation and animal rights anglers have become quite cynical.
 

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university challenge ?

wheres bamber gascoigne




* The area your observations are taken from: you wont get anyone telling that




lol..........
 

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the last few years down in cornwall they havent really stopped it slows down a bit from nov to feb but we still get a few i have 100 traps out all year round and normally get 30 each time i dont do them every week they are hidden away from the crab trap thieves so get a few when and if i need them
same here rich they peel year round just slowing up for the winter
 

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Quote........I am currently doing some research on peeler crab behaviour around the UK.

Why?
I see you have no detail in your 'profile', I agree with Palamid you need to be a far more forthcoming before a lot of information is given over.
What's in it for us, the sports fishing world?

Afishionado
 

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Hi Liz

Its sounds like you are doing a degree or masters ?

As I am in education and like to help (mad)

I will be looking for the common shore crab, well peelers, to be exact, I could give you some site specific info after the 12 of April if you need it
It will come from the Roseland Peninsula area, any good ?

FishermanFigg
 

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"Of course I will post again and let you know how it goes."
Liz


Hi Liz,
What are you going to post again to let us know how what goes?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hello again,

I have had some responses from users in other forums and apologies for not giving much detail before (I didn't want to make it too wordy as an introduction!). I couldn't really fit all this into a profile so I've responded publicly for everyone's benefit.

I am a marine biologist (MSc) working for an environmental consultancy. I am looking at trends in populations of shore crab around the UK. I have been reading a lot on other species that seem to be moving north (with potential environmental changes). My questions are part of a quick preliminary scoping study to see if these changes (such as warmer summers) may be affecting the breeding habits of the crab, and indeed their peeling habits too. Having spoken to several researchers, anglers and bait collectors from around the coasts so far there is some evidence for this, but nothing in press so far. During my enquiries the World Sea Fishing Forum has been mentioned several times, and I could see from past posts that bait is a hot (and controversial) topic, but nonetheless I thought I'd ask anyway in case anyone out there would like to contribute their thoughts on the topic.

If there are any interesting outcomes, then my outputs from this scoping will be a basic table comparing peel, breeding and mating months published in the scientific literature in the 1960s to more recent observations. Like I said, it is a scoping study to see if there are any potential changes afoot or if this is an area that needs further research. From my results I can let you know if the overall consensus has been - 'yes, there is a potential change' or 'no, there is not'.

I hope this answers your questions. Like I said in my previous post, I am not looking for information from your favourite bait collecting areas - a general area would be fantastic for my purposes. In fact, my particular areas of interest are (as I already have some old literature on these areas):
The Thames Estuary,
Robin Hoods Bay,
Aberdeen
Clyde
Isle of Man
Cardiff
Swansea
Milford Haven
Plymouth,
Exmouth,
North Wales,
or Aberdeen

This covers a good selection of areas north to south. However, if anyone would like to lengthen my list then please feel free to add to it!

Thanks again for your interest (and apologies for the long post!),
L
 

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Discussion Starter #10
the last few years down in cornwall they havent really stopped it slows down a bit from nov to feb but we still get a few i have 100 traps out all year round and normally get 30 each time i dont do them every week they are hidden away from the crab trap thieves so get a few when and if i need them
Does that mean the intertidal peel used to stop in Cornwall? or has it been an all year event since you and Paul can remember. I believe it has always been the case in Devon, but not much info for Cornwall so far.

Thanks guys!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi Liz

Its sounds like you are doing a degree or masters ?

As I am in education and like to help (mad)

I will be looking for the common shore crab, well peelers, to be exact, I could give you some site specific info after the 12 of April if you need it
It will come from the Roseland Peninsula area, any good ?

FishermanFigg
Thanks FishermanFigg - that would be great. I was hoping to complete my scoping before then, but it would be interesting to hear whether you see berried females or mating behaviour. We can keep in touch re your findings via PM as dont really want to publish site specific info online (it seems a bit controversial!).
 

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Does that mean the intertidal peel used to stop in Cornwall? or has it been an all year event since you and Paul can remember. I believe it has always been the case in Devon, but not much info for Cornwall so far.

Thanks guys!
not sure whether it is a new phenomena as I have only been a north devon resident for ten years or so and only started collecting recently but it is accepted as the norm to collect depleted numbers through the winter months
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Paul, Yep - I understand it's the norm in Devon too. Thanks for confirming though - my reports from the 1960s confirm that too.

Have a good weekend - hope you get out on the water!
 

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well the crabs havent started here yet !!, have been down tonight to the local river and found a few with eggs. but none actually peeling,mores the pity.
i really envy the lads down south for being able to get the crabs almost all year round, but up here in the north east the season normally last from april- november depending on the weather and the temperatures.
 

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I've had peeling and soft crabs of the following species so far this year:

Chancre (aka Edible Crab) - January
Lady Crab (Velvet Swimmer) - February
Green Crab (Common shore crab?) - Feb and March.

I don't collect crabs much but will be trying to do more this year.

I am down in sub tropical (apparently...) Guernsey so the area is small by UK standards but the area in which all were found was even smaller, perhaps less than 0.5 square miles.
 

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Everyone was in shock up this end of the world, becuase the bait shops had large live local peeler in Mid Feb. These have come from the local tidal rivers. We are still waiting on the crabs to peel along the reef and open water. The popular consensus has been the warmer water temperatures bringing them on. I havent lived in these parts very long, so if you post a question on the south coast forum you might get an old-timer respond.

Now, how about something back. I've listened to many theories as to what the triggers are for crabs to peel. Is it possible you are up with latest research and could let us know from a scientists point of view?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I've had peeling and soft crabs of the following species so far this year:

Chancre (aka Edible Crab) - January
Lady Crab (Velvet Swimmer) - February
Green Crab (Common shore crab?) - Feb and March.

I don't collect crabs much but will be trying to do more this year.

I am down in sub tropical (apparently...) Guernsey so the area is small by UK standards but the area in which all were found was even smaller, perhaps less than 0.5 square miles.
Hello Guernsey,

That's brilliant. Thanks for that! I dont suppose you've seen what time of year the green crab is mating or carrying eggs have you??

Cheers,
Liz
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Everyone was in shock up this end of the world, becuase the bait shops had large live local peeler in Mid Feb. These have come from the local tidal rivers. We are still waiting on the crabs to peel along the reef and open water. The popular consensus has been the warmer water temperatures bringing them on. I havent lived in these parts very long, so if you post a question on the south coast forum you might get an old-timer respond.

Now, how about something back. I've listened to many theories as to what the triggers are for crabs to peel. Is it possible you are up with latest research and could let us know from a scientists point of view?
Hello fishy Rob,

That is great. It will be interesting to see if the peel continues through the summer down your way, or if it reaches its peak early and slows down. If you are down on the open shore yourself then it would be good to see when you start seeing mating and females carrying eggs?

Ok, in answer to your question, the literature has extensive ideas about why crabs peel. Most of you will already be familiar with the accepted theories,. Obviously, crabs need to peel to grow as their large exoskeleton (shell / carapace) does not have the capability to grow with them. So, when they fill their shell the time has come to shed it and harden a new one. Their hormones control as and when this happens. They do this by drawing in water and blowing up. Females only mate just after the peel (when they are 'softies') so this is an important breeding time. Now, as to what triggers the peel, apart from the fact the crab is dying the change his clothes, there are many theories! As I understand it, it is mostly to do with what triggers the hormones to be released. It is generally accepted that the environmental conditions need to be correct - and warm temperatures help, as they will harden quicker and be vulnerable to predation for less time. However, many things also stop a crab peeling, such as infection by parasites, rapid changes in salinity, cold, lack of available habitat.
Temperatures can also be too hot for a peel, and they apparently tend not to breed in waters warmer than 18oC. However, this is just something I've read and is interesting me at the moment, so I've not managed to follow it up with any fieldwork. Which is why I'm asking you guys for first hand observations!

I hope this answers your question!

Liz
 

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Discussion Starter #19
well the crabs havent started here yet !!, have been down tonight to the local river and found a few with eggs. but none actually peeling,mores the pity.
i really envy the lads down south for being able to get the crabs almost all year round, but up here in the north east the season normally last from april- november depending on the weather and the temperatures.
Thanks Baldy Pete! Useful to know when the berried females are, even if they're not peeling yet! Hopefully soon. From my point of view its interesting to hear they're not early.

Cheers again,
L
 

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just got back from the traps paul morgan and me have on the taw/torridge estuary..only 11 today from about 60 traps.last week when it was a lot warmer we had neaerly 30 each trip big males too.

there was a lot of hardbacks today that wernt quite ready too peel if you know what i mean.?.must be going through the early stages of moulting.as it was very hard to tell if they were `peeling` or not.
 
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