Using Hatcheries to Answer Early Life History Questions: A Case Study of Channeled Whelk

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 3:20 PM
Marriott Ballroom A (The Marriott Little Rock)
Shelley Edmundson , Biological Sciences, University of New Hamshire, Durham, NH
Elizabeth A. Fairchild , Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Channeled whelk (Busycotypus canaliculatus), a large, predatory marine gastropod, supports a lucrative and growing New England fishery. The whelk fishery began as a by-catch fishery, but over time, as other fisheries have declined and overseas market demand for whelk has increased, it has become a full-time commercial fishery. As a result of increased demand and escalating prices, a substantial rise in effort has occurred. Unlike many fisheries, little is known about the biological parameters of channeled whelk making this fishery extremely difficult to regulate. The early life history of whelks is not fully understood. Female whelks anchor egg strings to sandy substrates and juveniles begin to hatch after some unknown period of incubation. By cultivating egg strings in hatcheries, questions difficult to answer in nature can be resolved.

Whelk egg strings, collected from Vineyard Haven, MA, have been cultivated under ambient conditions at the University of New Hampshire’s Coastal Marine Laboratory over the past two years. Incubation period (time to hatch), survival, and growth of juvenile channeled whelks have been documented. In addition, observed behaviors suggest post-hatch pelagic dispersal mechanisms exist. By utilizing hatcheries to study whelk early life history, more biological information is available for scientific-based management decisions.