Alternate Title

Abundance and Distribution of Two Species of Squilla (Crustacea: Stomatopoda: Squillidae) in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

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Stomatopods (mantis shrimps) are predatory benthic crustaceans. Mantis shrimp in the genus Squilla are frequent bycatch animals unintentionally collected in conjunction with the shrimp fishery in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Their carcasses are discarded instead of being retained for human consumption, fish meal, or other protein-based food products. The size, depth, salinity, and temperature distributions of these species, as well as their abundance based on gender, were examined to gain biological information that would be necessary if a fishery were to develop in the GOM. I collected samples (n = 2,854) of Squilla empusa and Squilla chydaea in the northern GOM at depths of 1–96 m at 56 stations. Squilla chydaea was generally collected in greater abundance and in deeper water compared to S. empusa, even though the biomass of S. empusa collected in this study was larger than that of S. chydaea. For both species, individuals were larger in body length and wet weight in the winter, but more individuals were collected in the summer. Female S. chydaea dominated the catch in summer; there was no seasonal difference in sex ratio for S. empusa. The potential for commercial harvesting of mantis shrimp in the northern GOM is discussed and compared to other mantis shrimp fisheries.

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