Collection Data

Page Contents: Section | Significance | Background | Location & Dates | Taxonomic Contents | Documentation | Description of Collection | Collection Inventory | Collection Assets | Specimen Condition | Container Condition | Label Condition | Label Content | Level of Taxonomic Identification

Alaska King Crab Investigation - Polychaetes ~1942

Section Responsible for Processing (Top)


Significance (Top)

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.

Background (Top)

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 (Top)

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 (Top)


Documentation (Top)

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 (Top)

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 (Top)

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

Collection Assets (Top)

Date Click to View Image 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 View [9662.9 kB] Fish-Wildlife-Service_1941_report_Alaska-crab-investigations.
11/24/2014 View [26945.9 kB] Hartman, O. 1948. The polychaetous annelids of Alaska. Pacific Science II: 3-58.
11/24/2014 View [821.2 kB] Schmitt_1940_Alaska-King-Crab-Investigations.
11/24/2014 View [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.

Specimen Condition (Top)

Date 4: New alcohol needed immediately (specimens will otherwise be irreparably damaged) 3: Containers need to be 'topped off' 2: New alcohol needed within next 6-12 months 1: No curation needed at present
01/30/2014 0% 0% 0% 100%

Container Condition (Top)

Date 4: Immediate short-term (less than 5 years) storage container replacement needed. Present containers are inadequate. Curate in the short-term with plastic buckets, whirltop bags, or similar. 3: Specimens contained in museum-grade long-term (greater than 5 years) storage containers. Jars need new closures (e.g. replace Bakelite and metal lids). 2: Transfer to museum-grade long-term storage containers. Replace or transfer to new jars and glass vials, replace cotton and closures. 1: Containers are museum-grade and meet highest curation standards.
01/30/2014 0% 0% 0% 100%

Label Condition (Top)

Date 4: New labels needed immediately (original labels in poor condition, paper torn/worn, legibility poor). 3: New labels needed within next 1-2 years (original labels beginning to wear, pencil writing fading, low quality paper was used). 2: New labels needed are as a result of curation and accretion of collection. 1: No new labels needed at present.
01/30/2014 0% 100% 0% 0%
100% need new labels. Curation is done.

Label Content (Top)

Date 2: New label or additional label needed because original label data is incomplete and supporting documentation provides additional collection data which greately enhances significance and value of each lot. 1: Label content complete. All collection data are contained on label.
01/30/2014 100% 0%

Level of Taxonomic Identification (Top)

Date 7: Not identified 6: Phylum 5: Class 4: Order 3: Family 2: Genus 1: Species
01/30/2014 0% 100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Taken to lowest possible taxonomic level by Olga Hartman. Some specimens have been re-identified by specialists.