Scientia Marina, Vol 78, No 2 (2014)

Size distribution and monthly variation of ovarian development for the female blue swimmer crab, Portunus pelagicus in Beibu Gulf, off south China

Zhijun Liu
Key Laboratory of Exploration and Utilization of Aquatic Genetic Resources, Shanghai Ocean University - Jangsu Key Laboratory of Marine Biotechnology, Huaihai Institute of Technology, China

Xugan Wu
Key Laboratory of Exploration and Utilization of Aquatic Genetic Resources, Shanghai Ocean University - Jangsu Key Laboratory of Marine Biotechnology, Huaihai Institute of Technology, China

Wei Wang
Key Laboratory of Exploration and Utilization of Aquatic Genetic Resources, Shanghai Ocean University, China

Binlun Yan
Jangsu Key Laboratory of Marine Biotechnology, Huaihai Institute of Technology, China

Yongxu Cheng
Key Laboratory of Exploration and Utilization of Aquatic Genetic Resources, Shanghai Ocean University, China


The present study was conducted to investigate the size distribution and seasonality variation of ovarian development for females of the blue swimmer crab, Portunus pelagicus, from Beibu Gulf, China. The results show that, based on pubertal moult, gonadosomatic index (GSI), morphology and histological configurations, the ovarian development cycle of P. pelagicus can be divided into five stages; Stage I, dominated by oogonia with some previtellogenic oocytes and endogenous vitellogeic oocytes; Stage II, dominated by endogenous vitellogenic oocytes with some previtellogeic oocytes and oogonia; Stage III, dominated by exogenous vitellogeic oocytes; Stage IV, of nearly mature oocytes; and Stage V, of mature oocytes with fully ripened ovary. GSI increased significantly during the ovarian development (P < 0.05), while the hepatosomatic index (HSI) appeared to decrease. Thus, a significant negative correlation was found between GSI and HSI (P < 0.01). The smallest carapace width of a mature female and that at which 50% of females reach maturity were 79.2 mm and 108.2 mm, respectively. The carapace width and body weight of the dominant size class ranged between 86 and 115 mm and 40 and 120 g, respectively. Furthermore, the highest GSI of female P. pelagicus was found in March, while the peak of ovigerous females was found in April.


blue swimmer crab; ovarian development; size at maturity; seasonality

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