G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

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It occurs, feeding and swimming on the bottom and between the bottom and the surface, in the
deeper water of the harbor, and in the shallower waters of rivers and creeks. It is also found
walking on the muddy borders of creeks or rivers, and on the marshes, when the tide is out For
market, these Crabs are occasionally taken by the fishermen in cast-nets while seeking fish, but the
customary crab-net is a sort of dip-net attached to a pole. In the deeper water, it is sometimes
necessary to entice the Craba to the surface by means of bait attached to cords. Although Blue
Crabs occur in this region more or less throughout the entire year, they are chiefly taken for the
market in the spring and early summer months, as they are then in the best condition and most
highly esteemed for their flavor. Both hard and soft shell individuals are eaten. They seem to be
as common now as formerly.

Mr. Silaa Stearns, of Pensacola, Florida, writes as follows concerning the habits, etc., of
Callinectes in the Gulf of Mexico :

" The Blue Crab is more abundant than the Stone Crab, and is distributed along the entire
Gulf coast. It is found out in the Gulf, in the bays and estuaries, and very often in fresh-water
rivers and lakes that have close connection with some body of salt water. It lives in the shoaler
waters during the summer months, from about .April to November, and retires to the deeper water
on the approach of cold weather, to remain half dormant until the first warm day or settled mild
weather. Its first move in the spring is to the grass-covered shoals, where various kinds of fishes
and other marine animals have just deposited their eggs, upon which it feeds greedily. All
through the summer it is found in such places as these, acting both as a scavenger of decomposing
animal matter and as one of the most dreaded enemies of small fish and their spawn. At high tide
the Crabs come nearer to the shore than at low tide, and at all times the young are more venture-
some than the old. Hiding under patches of seaweed, behind and under logs and roots of trees
and in the sand, the young spend the period of high tide at the very water's edge.

" The period of spawning and shedding extends through several months, probably the entire
summer, for some individuals are found loaded with spawu and others in a soft slate during the
whole season. This summer (1880), while at Saint Joseph's Bay, on this coast, I found large
quantities of females, heavy with spawn, lying just at the edge of the surf on the sea-beach.
They were quite inactive, and there were no males among them. While shedding its shell, and
until the new shell has become sufficiently hard to protect it, the Blue Crab remains hidden in
the mud or among seaweeds. This is the most active of all the Gulf species of Crabs. It swims
easily and rapidly at the surface at times, and its movements at the bottom are remarkably swift.
It is also very pugnacious, and not only fights its own kind, but also shows a bold front to its
enemies, including man. The average size of the Blue Crab is about six inches broad across the
shell.

" Being so common that people nearly everywhere along the coast can obtain any quantity
for the mere trouble of capturing them, they have given rise to no defined industry excepting in



778 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

the larger cities. Outside of New Orleans, in fact, there is no regular trade in Blue Crabs. In
the early spring tbey are trolled from deep water to within reach of a dip-net, by means of a piece
of meat attached to a long string. Later in the season, when the water has become warmer, they
may be dipi>ed up with a dip-net all along the shore. About Pensacola, the catching of Crabs is
classed among the sports. During warm summer evenings, parties of men, women, and children
set out for secluded portions of the bay shore, where they pursue the Crabs, with torches and jigs
or dip-nets, until they are tired. A midnight supper, made up mainly of the Crabs and fish they
have taken, follows, and the enjoyment concludes with a moonlight sail homeward."

THE SPIDER CRABS LIBINIA EMARGINATA, Leach ; LIBINIA DUBIA, Edwards.

The Spider Crabs are inhabitants of shallow water along the Atlantic coast, from Western
Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. The two species resemble one another very closely, but the
emarginata is more thickly covered with spines than the dubia, which is also further distinguished
by being narrower across the front, and by having a longer rostrum. As a rule, the latter species
is found more commonly than the former in the very shallow water near shore, and its range is
more restricted toward the north, not passing beyond Cape Cod.

Professor Verrill says of their habits, that " they are very common on muddy shores and flats.
They hide beneath the surface of the mud and decaying weeds, or among the eel-grass, and are
very sluggish in their motions. The whole surface of the body is covered with hairs, which
entangle particles of mud and dirt of various kinds; and sometimes hydroids, algae, and even
barnacles grow upon their shells, contributing to their more ready concealment. The males are
much larger than the females, and have long and stout claws. They often spread a foot or more
across the extended legs. The females have much smaller and shorter legs and comparatively
weak claws." 1

The Spider Crabs are used as bait along the Middle Atlantic States, and probably elsewhere,
withiij their range.

THE KELP CRAB EPIALTUS PRODUCTTJS, Randall.

The Kelp Crab of the Pacific coast is "easily recognized by its smooth quadrate carapax, with
two distinct teeth on either side. It is the most common inaioid Crab on the coast of California
and Oregon, and is usually found among seaweeds on rocks, just below low-water mark. Its color
is olivaceous when alive."*

This Crab is occasionally taken for food by the natives along the coast, but apparently has not
yet found ita way into the San Francisco markets. It has been especially recorded from Ptiget
Sound, the mouth of the Columbia River, the Farallone Islands, Toinales Bay, entrance to Sau
Francisco Bay, and Monterey.

THE RED ROCK CRAB ECHIDNOCEROS SETIMANUS, Stimpson.

This is quite a large and very ornamental red Crab, which is not eaten, but is occasionally
sold in the San Francisco markets as a curiosity. It is procured in moderately deep water about
the F:ii-;illi>iif Islands, which lie a short distance off the coast at San Francisco, California. The
Ixxly of adult specimens measures about ten inches both in length and breadth, and the weight
of such specimens is between six and seven pounds. The carapax is convex and exceedingly
uneven, being covered with large tubercles and granules. The front and lateral margins on each
side bear about eight principal teeth, and the beak is four lobed. The right claw is much larger
than the left, and both are covered with tufts of hair, and armed with teeth and tubercles. The

1 Vineyard Sound Report, p. 368, 1871-'72.

'STIMPSON : Journ. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vi, p. 457, 1857.



Tin: IIKKMIT ciiAi-.s. 779

ground color of the body is vermilion, the granules and spines Ix-ing ^eiieralh of ;i deep blue or
purple ; the entire carapax is covered with iniiiiite lnMlcs. According to Dr. William Stimpsoii.
who wrote concerning this Trail in 1*.">7. specimens of this species then readily Mold in the San
Francisco market for live and ten dollars each. A certain demand for them still continue-, l.nt
they arc apparent Iv brought to market only occasionally.

THE SAND BUG HIPPA TALPOIDA, Say.

This is rather an odd species of Crab, related to the Hermit Crabs, from which, however, it
differs greatly in a]pearance. The body is oval in outline and more than half as broad as long,
the sides forming a ncarh regular curve. The upper part of the body, formed mostly of the.
ecplialo-tliorax, is convex and rather plain, giving a decidedly bug-like appearance to the
creature, as suggested In its common name. The tail, which is long and broad, is pressed up
against the under surface of the body, reaching nearly to the front. The eyes are minute and
placed at die ends of long, slender peduncles; the principal antenine are about as long as the
carapax, and are curved and strongly plumose.

"This specie* burrows like a mole, head first, instead of backward. It can also swim quite
actively, and is sometimes found swimming about in the pools left on the flats at low water. It
is occasionally dug out of the sand at low-water mark, and is often thrown up by the waves on
sand-beaches, but it seems to live in shallow water on sandy bottoms in great numbers, for in
seining on one of the sand-beaches near Wood's Holl for small fishes, a large quantity of this
species was taken. Its color is yellowish-white, tinged with purple on the back. It is one of the
favorite articles of food of many fishes. Mr. Smith found the young abundant at Fire Island,
near high water, burrowing in the sand. This species is still more abundant farther south." 1

The Sand Bug ranges from Cape Cod to Florida, but is much more abundant toward the
South than at the North. On the Xew Jersey coast, and probably at other places farther south, it
is used I iv the fishermen as bait. It is frequently called by them the "Bait Bug."

THE HERMIT GRABS EUPAGURUS POLLICARIS, Stimpsoii; EUPAGURUS BBRMIARDVS, Brandt;

I'.l PAGURUS LONGIOARPUS, StimpSOll ; AND ALLIED SPECIES.

There are numerous species of Hermit Crabs living upon our coast, in all depths from the
shore down to several hundred fathoms. Three species which are of large enough size to be
considered as desirable for bait occur, however, in localities where they might be easily taken by
the fishermen. One of the species, Eupaguriix bernhardus, is frequently used f<Jr that purpose in
England, and could as well be utilized here. The other two species, living in shallow water, are
A.', /mllicaris and E. longicarpun. E. bernhardus ranges from Cape Cod northward, and from
low-water mark to depths of fifty fathoms and more. E. pollicari* ranges from Massachusetts to
Florida, and <x:cnrs at low-water mark, but is more abundant on the rocky and shelly bottoms of
the bays and sounds, and upon oyster-beds. E. longicarpus rauges from Massachusetts Bay to
the Gulf of Mexico, and from between tide levels to a depth of ten fathoms.

The Hermit Crabs protect the hinder, soft portion of their bodies in any empty Gasteropod
shell of sufficient size which is obtainable, carrying this shell upon their hack. They move about
very actively and are very pugnacious. Their savage dispositions toward each other has earned
for them, in England, the name of "Soldier Crabs," but both in Europe and this country they are
generally termed ' Hermits."

1 VKKKI i.i. : Vineyard Sound Report, p. 339, 1871-'72.



780 NATURAL HISTORY OP AQUATIC ANIMALS.

E. longicarpus is smaller than either of the other species, but is more of a littoral species, and
therefore, as a rale, more easily obtainable.

A fourth species, E. pubescens, might be added to our list of available Hermit Crabs, but it is
generally limited to deeper water than the others. It ranges from New Jersey to Greenland, but
south of Casco Bay, Maine, has not been found as high up as the level of low tide. In Casco Bay
and the Bay of Fundy, it sometimes, but rarely, occurs upon the shore, just below low- water mark.

"Active and interesting little ' Hermit Crabs,' Eupagurus longicarpus, are generally abundant
in the pools near low water, and concealed in wet places beneath rocks. In the pools they may
be seen actively running about, carrying upon their backs the dead shell of some small Gasteropod,
most commonly Anachis avara or Ilyanassa obsoleta, though all the small spiral shells are used in
this way. They are very pugnacious and nearly always ready for a fight when two happen to
meet, but they are also great cowards, and very likely each, after the first onset, will instantly
retreat into his shell, closing the aperture closely with the large claws. They use their long,
slender antenna) very efficiently as organs of feeling, and show great wariness in all their actions.
The hinder part of the body is soft, with a thin skin, and one-sided in structure, so as to fit into
the borrowed shells, while near the end there are appendages which are formed into hook-like
organs, by which they hold themselves securely in their houses, for these spiral shells serve them
both for shields and dwellings. This species also occurs in vast numbers among the eel-grass, both
in the estuaries and in the sounds and bays, and is also frequent on nearly all other kinds of
bottoms in the sounds. It is a favorite article of food for many of the fishes, for they swallow it
shell and all. A much larger species, belonging to the same genus, but having much shorter and
thicker claws ( Eupagurus pollicaris), is also found occasionally under the rocks at low water, but
it ia much more common on rocky and shelly bottoms in the sounds and bays. Its habits are
otherwise similar to the small one, but it occupies much larger shells, such as those of Ijunatia
heros, Fulgur carica, &c. This large species is devoured by the sharks and sting-rays."

223. THE LOBSTERS.
THE SPINY LOBSTER OR ROCK LOBSTER PANULIEUS INTERRUPTUS, Randall.

The well-known Spiny Lobster of the European coast, Palinurm vulgaris, is represented
on the western coast of the United States by a closely allied genus and species, Panulirus
interruptus. The Spiny Lobster differs from the common Lobster in wanting the large anterior
claws, the first pair of feet being simple and without pincers, and in having enormously developed
antennae or feelers, which are very large around at the base, and as long as, or longer than, the
body. The gills are similar in structure to those of the true Lobster, but number twenty-one on
each side.

The California Spiny Lobster, which, in the region where it occurs, is often called simply
"Lobster" or "Cray-fish," attains a total length of fourteen inches, the carapax in adult
individuals measuring as much as five inches. Average-sized individuals weigh from three and
one-half to four pounds. One specimen weighing eleven and one-half pounds has been recorded
from Santa Barbara, but very large specimens are now rarely taken in that locality. It ranges
southward from Point Conception, California, the most northern point from which it has been
recorded being San Luis Obispo. At this place it is rare, but at Santa Barbara and to the
southward from there it is very common. These Lobsters generally inhabit rocky ledges. In the
winter they remain in deep water among the kelp, and are captured in lobster-pots; in the

1 VKRBILL: Vineyard Sound Report, p. 313, 1871-'72.



THE AMERICAN LOBSTER. 781

summer they move into shallower water, and are taken by means of dip-nets. The best bait for
the traps is fresh fish, but any flesh will answer for this purpose. The spawning season for the
spiny Lobster is the early spring, when they are found in abundance close to the shore. At this
time they arc less fat than at others, and are not considered as good eating; some even regard
them as unwholesome at the spawning time, but nevertheless they are eaten more or less
continuously through the entire year. When abundant near the shore, catches aggregating five
hundred pounds have been made by a single person in the short space of two hours. They are
not as abundant now as formerly in the places where they are most extensively taken as food,
this having resulted from ovei fishing, especially during the spawning season. There is, therefore,
k'n-at danger of the species becoming exterminated, unless some stringent laws are framed to
protect them.

224. THE AMERICAN LOBSTER HOMARUS AMERICANUS, Milne-Edwards.

INTRODUCTION. Although the Lobster is one of the most important of our food inverte-
brates, careful observations regarding its natural history, and especially its breeding habits,
rate of growth, etc., have been strangely neglected. This fact is greatly to be deplored,
considering that the Lobster has recently become the subject of important legislation by the
several States which it inhabits, and that its cultivation by artificial means has been frequently
attempted. It is now an undisputed fact that the abundance, as well as the average size, of
Lobsters has greatly decreased in our shallow-water areas during the past twenty to thirty years,
thereby forcing the lobster fishermen to resort to deeper water, and increasing the hardships of
their profession. The question has, therefore, very naturally arisen as to whether this continued
decrease can in any way be checked either by the enactment of proper protective laws, or by means
of artificial propagation. Laws for the protection of the Lobster have been passed by all the
States interested in this fishery, but their want of uniformity and the difficulty of enforcing them
have diminished the benefits which it was hoped might result. The success attending the artificial
breeding of several of our food- fishes has inspired the hope that similar methods might succeed
with regard to the Lobster, and many persons are now awaiting with interest the results of
experiments in that direction. It is very certain, however, that the breeding of Lobsters can
never be successfully carried on until we have become acquainted with at least the main features
of their natural history. The artificial cultivation of animals can only progress through the
fulfillment of natural laws, which must be thoroughly understood before they can be properly
applied. As it is, however, the would-be experimenter in the matter of lobster-breeding must
still follow a very uncertain pathway, meeting with numerous failures which previous studies
might have averted.

To assist in a small way toward overcoming this difficulty, and as a preliminary to the
industrial report which will appear hereafter, the author has brought together the following few
disconnected popular notes, taken in part from published works, but mainly derived from the
observations of intelligent lobster fishermen and dealers, who have always cheerfully responded
when called upon for information. It is hoped that the meagerness of these notes will act as an
incentive to observers in this line of research.

RELATIONS AND STRUCTURE OP THE LOBSTER. The Lobster belongs to the highest group
of the Crustacea, the so-called Decapoda, or ten-footed crustaceans, which group is again divided
into the Brachyura, or short-tailed Decapods (true Crabs), the Anomoura (Hermit Crabs, etc.), and
(he Macroura, or long-tailed Decapods (Lobsters and Shrimps). The members of the first group



782 NATURAL HISTORY OF AQUATIC ANIMALS.

range higher in organization than those of the two latter, and the Lobster must, therefore, be
regarded as lower in the scale of being than our common Crab.

The Lobsters find some of their nearest allies among the common fresh-water Cray-fish of our
rivers and small streams, with which they agree structurally in most particulars. The principal
differences existing between them, beyond size and shape, are sucb as would be readily overlooked
by the casual observer. One of the most important is as to the number of gills, of which there are
twenty perfect ones on each side in the Lobster and only seventeen to eighteen on each side in the
Cray fish. Some of the gills also differ in structure in the two groups. The other structural
differences need not be discussed here, nor do we propose to describe the anatomical peculiarities
of the Lobster in this connection, as they have been fully treated of in numerous scientific publica-
tions which are easily obtainable. It will suffice for our purpose to pass over in review the
principal external characteristics.

The body of the Lobster, as may be readily observed, is made up of two general divisions, an
anterior one, called the carapax or cephalo-thorax, and covered by a single shell or shield above
and at the sides, and a posterior one, termed the abdomen, consisting of six segments and a
terminal flap, or telson. The dividing line between the head and thorax proper, which are both
contained within the carapax, is indicated on the upper surface of the carapax by a trans-
verse, curved groove. Underneath the thoracic portion of the carapax there are five transverse
segments, corresponding to the pairs of legs, of which the four posterior pairs are subequal in
size and much smaller than the anterior pair or claws. All of the legs are composed of
several and an equal number of joints; the two posterior ones terminate in simple points, while
the two in advance of them end in small claws. The anterior legs are very much enlarged, the
joints very unequal in size and very unlike in shape, the terminal joint, forming the claw proper,
being very greatly developed, hard and rugged, and very powerful. Each segment of the
abdomen or tail also has a pair of appendages on the lower side. In the female, the anterior five
pairs are small and slender, and constitute, the so-called swimmerets, to which the eggs are
attached after extrusion from the body and during incubation. The appendages of the posterior
abdominal segment are large, and each terminates in two broad plates which lie at each side of the
telson. In the male, the anterior pair of abdominal appendages are modified into the stiffened
styles, by means of which the sex may be easily distinguished. The functions of these different
appendages correspond with the same in the Cray-fish, which are described as follows by
Professor Huxley:

" The Cray-fish swims by the help of its abdomen and the hinder pairs of abdominal limbs ;
walks by means of the four hinder pairs of thoracic limbs ; lays hold of anything to fix itself, or
to assist in climbing, by the two chelate anterior pairs of these limbs, which are also employed in
tearing the food seized by the forceps fbig claws] and conveying it to the mouth ; while it seizes
its prey and defends itself with the forceps."

On the lower side of the body, in front of the claws, are several pairs of variously shaped
small organs, which surround the mouth and subserve mastication. Still farther in front are two
long feelers or anteniiie, and two smaller feelers or antenules, and also the two compound eyes,
situated at the ends of two short, movable stalks. The carapax terminates in front in a sharp,
>piny, and prominent projection or rostrum, which reaches out between the eyes. The gills are
siiii;it] on each side of the body, just inside of the carapax, in two cavities, called the branchial
chambers, which open behind, below, and in front, so that the water has free entrance.

Three species of true Lobsters, constituting the genus Homarus, are now recognized by
naturalists. They live exclusively in the sea. The American species, Homarus americanus, in



SIZK OK TIIK 1.0HSTKH. 783

which we are now interested, is the largest of llirm all. Next in si/.c, and of equal importance, is
tin- European species. HomaruK rulf/nrix, which differs but slightly from our own, the rostrum
being narrower, and bearing teeth only on its upper margin, while in the former species the lower
margin of tlic rostrum is also armed with teeth. The third species belongs to the southern hemi-
sphere .mil attains a length of only about live inches. It is called llomuniH capensix, and inhabits
the region of the Cape of (iood Hope. We are not aware of its being used as food.

NAM I 1 .. For a common and widely distributed marine animal, the American Lobster is
surprisingly free from the long list of vernacular and local names which encumber some of our
most important industrial (isbes, such as the menhaden. The simple term "Lobster" belongs to it
herever it occurs, and in only a few rare instances have the fishermen dared to assert their well-
acknowledged right of adding, through its means, a new word to their already somewhat lengthy
and interesting vocabulary. On the coast of Rhode Island, Lobsters are sometimes called "Sea-
craws," from their resemblance to the fresh water Cray-fish; and at Nantucket the young Lobster
is termed "Grass-hopper"; but such names are not much used, nor are they of importance to our
discussion.

The different stages during the process of shedding and subsequent hardening of the new
shell and during spawning are designated by descriptive terms, such as "Black Lobster," "Soft-
sliell." "Berried Lobster," etc., which are described in full further on.

In and about Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts, two varieties of Lobsters are recognized, and
these arc distinguished as " School Lobsters" and "Hock Lobsters," or "Groundholders."



Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 129 of 146)