Adult oveigerous female snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, were obtained approximately bimonthly from the eastern Bering Sea for embryonic sampling and biometric information. Biochemical analysis of embryo samples included determination of moisture, ash, total lipid, protein content, fatty acid profile, and lipid profile. Moisture increased as the embryos matured. Protein content remained unchanged, ash content increased, and lipid content decreased on a dry weight basis coincident with embryonic development indicating that lipids were the main energy source of developing embryos. The utilization of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acid categories during development was similar but individual fatty acids within each category varied considerably. Over 75% of the C14:0, C18:4(n-3), and C20:1(n-11) fatty acids were consumed during the embryonic development from nauplius to pre-hatch while C22:5(n-3), C20:5(n-3), and C18:1(n-9)cis fatty acids were utilized at 49%, 57%, and 48% respectively. Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, C22:6(n-3), was among the least utilized fatty acid at 36%. Forward stepwise general discriminant analysis of fatty acid profiles indicated that determination of fatty acid profiles could be used to distinguish between embryos at the nauplius stage and the prehatching stage of development but not among embryos at intermediate stages. Triacylglycerides provided the energy source during development. This research highlights the potential nutrient requirements critical to early life-history development of Bering Sea snow crabs.
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Vol. 28 • No. 3