Collection Data

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Alaska King Crab Investigation – Polychaetes ~1942

Section Responsible for Processing



A collection from Alaska donated to the Allan Hancock Foundation & identified by Olga Hartman. The original material comprised 99 species, 6 of which were new, and 45 were new records for the area. Cited in: Hartman, O. 1948. The polychaetous annelids of Alaska. Pacific Science 2(1): 3-58.


The United States Fisheries Commission sponsored a two year investigation of the potential for a king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) fishery in Alaska. Dr. Waldo Schmitt, a crab specialist & the Smithsonian Curator of Marine Invertebrates, was loaned to the Fish & Wildlife Service for the first season of sampling to oversee the biological work. He collected several hundred lots of marine inverts which were sorted by Invertebrate Division staff at the Smithsonian. Polychaetes were sent to Hartman for identification; she was allowed to keep a duplicate set for the Allan Hancock Foundation in return for her help. These are now here along with the rest of the AHF Polychaete Collections.

The cannery motorship M/S Tondeleyo & the halibut schooner Dorothy were chartered the first year. The Dorothy, Champion, & Locks were used the second. Collections were made with Pacific & Atlantic style otter trawls, modified versions of each type, tangle nets, and crab pots. Latitude & longitude were taken only at the beginning of each otter trawl or tangle net drop; soundings were taken at each end for depth & bottom type.

Information about the survey can be found in:
FWS. 1942. Report of the Alaska crab investigation. U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, Fishery Market News 4(5a):1–108.
Schmitt, W. L., 1940. Alaska king crab investigations, 1940. Explorations and field-work of the Smithsonian Institution in 1940:39–46.
Zimmermann, M., Dew, C.B., Malley, B.A. 2009. History of Alaska King Crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, bottom trawl surveys, 1940-61. Marine Fisheries Review 7(1): 1-22. Available on- line at

Collection Location and Dates

Alaska, in the Gulf of Alaska & the Bering Sea. Collections in fall & early winter 1940 were taken between False Pass & Kodiak Island, particularly in Pavlof Bay & Canoe Bay on the Gulf side of the Alaska Peninsula & near Alitak on Kodiak Island. A shore party stayed at Alitak from mid-November 1940 to March 1941. More extensive sampling was done between February and September 1941, from off St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea to southeast Alaska in the Gulf.

Taxonomic Contents



Station list for samples compiled by L. Harris from the reports listed above & the Smithsonian’s on-line Invertebrate Zoology specimen catalogue (SI) (

It was difficult to reconcile station information between the FWS 1942 report, the SI data base, & Hartman 1942. None of the approximately 915 trawls & tangle nets listed in the FWS 1942 log of fishing operations (the most comprehensive set of information) have unique identifying numbers or associated station numbers. Samples here & at the SI-NMNH use the same set of station numbers which may have been assigned by Schmitt or someone else just for the collected invert samples. Numbers may have been assigned by each ship instead of specific trawls or tangle nets. In some cases multiple entries in the SI data base share the same station number but have different dates, depths, or locality data. Whenever possible, station data was matched using location, date & depth to the entries in the FWS 1942 log. However, many stations could not be matched as some of the SI data base & Hartman 1948 entries had dates & depths not listed in the FWS log.

Description of Collection

Wet preserved collection. The specimens were probably fixed in 10% formalin-seawater then transferred to 70% ethanol as that was a common practice in the 1940s.

Collection Inventory

None at this time (19 Nov 2013); the individual specimens are dispersed throughout the collection according to family, genus, and/or species.

Collection Assets

Date View or Retrieve File Information
11/24/2014 View [52.3 kB] Canoe Bay 22 Sep 1940 Alaska King Crab Exped taken Waldo Schmitt (c) SI-NMNH.
11/24/2014 View [84.7 kB] Crabs coming to Tondeleyo 1940 taken Waldo Schmitt (c) SI-NMNH.
11/24/2014 View [29.6 kB] Dorothy_schooner Mitrofania Is. during survey (c) Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
11/24/2014 Retrieve [9662.9 kB] Fish-Wildlife-Service_1941_report_Alaska-crab-investigations.
11/24/2014 Retrieve [26945.9 kB] Hartman, O. 1948. The polychaetous annelids of Alaska. Pacific Science II: 3-58.
11/24/2014 Retrieve [821.2 kB] Schmitt_1940_Alaska-King-Crab-Investigations.
11/24/2014 Retrieve [4575.6 kB] Zimmerman, et al. 2009. History of Alaska Red King Crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, Bottom Trawl Surveys, 1940–61. Marine Fisheries 71(1) 1-22.
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Curatorial Status (Click to view)