Blue Crab Aquaculture

Production Research

Past research has been based on a three-phase approach: hatchery production, intermediate grow-out, and a final grow-out to either a soft crab or a live bait crab in quarter-acre ponds


Blue crab hatchery development at GCRL has centered on the creation of an independent facility for rearing blue crab megalopae with the focus on local utilization of production.

GCRL larval rearing systems


Intermediate Grow-out

Megalopae and late stage zoeae are transferred to large-volume recirculating seawater systems for intermediate grow-out. Structure is added to the systems to reduce cannibalism.



Harvesting juvenile crabs from the raceway.



Juvenile crabs ready for stocking.

Final Growout

Quarter-acre ponds averaging 3 feet deep at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resource’s Aquaculture Facility at Lyman are used for production studies.

Pond at MDMR, Lyman Facility

Ponds used for bait crabs contain submerged aquatic vegetation. Bait crabs are harvested using traps. Small crabs are fished out using minnow traps with larger juveniles removed using crawfish traps. Standard crab traps are used to capture sub-adult and adult crabs.

Crawfish trap

Ponds for production of peeler crabs are free of submerged aquatic vegetation. Bushlines are used to harvest peeler or pre-molt crabs from the ponds.

Bushlines are run twice each day to check for peelers.
Peelers are shed in re-circulating seawater systems.

Wax myrtle bushline



Softshells from pond grow-out, removed
from the system, wrapped, and frozen