Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography & Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience

Spring 2024 Virtual Seminar Series


Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Monday, March 25, 2024
3:30 PM

Zoom link
Meeting ID: 986 9714 8226
Passcode: 349452


First observed in 2017, the emerging condition Black Eye Syndrome (BES) afflicts snow (Chionoecetes opilio) and tanner (C. bairdi) crabs of the Bering Sea. BES manifests as dark pigmentation beneath the eye surface at early stages and as complete darkening and erosion of the eye at severe stages. To date, no causative agent has been identified. Concurrent with BES's initial observations, marine heat waves, record lows of sea ice coverage, and the shrinking of the cold pool, an important habitat for crab on the Eastern Bering Sea shelf, occurred and were followed by the collapse of the Eastern Bering Sea snow crab population in 2021. Current evidence does not indicate a significant role of BES in the crash, but these coincident and dramatic changes to the Bering Sea ecosystem suggest that the environment may influence the syndrome. To explore potential relationships between BES and the environment, we are combining datasets of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Crab Observers Program and bottom condition hindcasts of the Bering10K ROMS configuration. Leveraging the fishery observer efforts and the coverage of the Bering10K model allows for spatiotemporal analysis of BES and local conditions that are not otherwise feasible due to the depth and remoteness of crab in the Bering Sea, highlighting the value of integrating disease surveillance into fisheries monitoring. Results show BES is likely influenced by environmental divers, but substantial unexplained variation over space and time indicates other unknown variables are at play. Our ongoing work continues investigation into BES's drivers and consequences for snow crab.


Reyn Yoshioka is a postdoctoral scientist in the Quantitative Marine Disease Ecology Lab of Dr. Maya Groner at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. He has broad interests in marine disease ecology, including diseases of marine invertebrates and the influence of parasites in marine food webs. His current research focuses on exploring potential roles of environmental drivers of crab and lobster disease using a combination of fishery-dependent agency data and oceanographic model outputs, while past work includes diverse disease research in shrimp, eelgrass, sea stars, and coral.

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