Reproductive biology of the blue swimming crab Portunus segnis (Forskål, 1775) (Brachyura: Portunidae) in the Gulf of Gabes (southeastern Tunisia, central Mediterranean Sea)
The blue swimming crab Portunus segnis (Forskål, 1775) (family Portunidae) is one of the earliest Lessepsian invaders of the Mediterranean Sea and has been recorded for several decades in various Mediterranean areas. However, its presence on the southeastern Tunisian coast is very recent. This study describes the reproductive biology of the species in the Gulf of Gabes, including sex ratio, ovarian maturation, size at sexual maturity, spawning season and fecundity. Samples for biological investigation were collected from the commercial catches of trawlers and artisanal fishing units, from January to December in 2018. A total of 2 762 specimens, ranging from 19 to 158 mm carapace width (CW) and 0.638 to 356.109 g body weight (BW), were analysed. Females outnumbered males by 1.3 to 1 (1 581 vs 1 181 individuals). Sexual maturity was classified into five stages for females and three stages for males, based on visual observation of the colour and shape of the gonads. Spawning occurred three times during the year, with the first peak in May, the second in July, and the third—the most intensive peak—in October–November. Size at sexual maturity was 93.1 mm CW for males, and 93.6 mm CW for females. Females carried 142 242–2 640 080 eggs on
their abdomen, with a positive linear relationship between fecundity and CW. The data presented in this study should be useful not only to detect variations in the reproductive cycle of P. segnis between regions but also to ensure sustainable management of the new fishery for the species in Tunisian waters.
Keywords: fecundity, Lessepsian migrant, maturity, ovarian maturation, reproduction, sex rati