Males attract the females by use of pheromones, which are chemical scents. During mating, the male crabs clasp the female so that the undersides of each are close. The male's breeding structures place the sperm into the female's body. This is only possible when the female is soft shelled, right after molting. This lasts less than thirty minutes. Mating occurs in near-shore costal locations, outside of estuaries. The eggs are not fertilized and spawned until the fall, following the summer breeding. After fertilization, about half a million to one million eggs are attatched to the female's abdomen. These eggs are brooded there until spring. The larvae are planktonic and use tidal currents to travel into estuaries. The larvae pass through six stages over a 105 to 125 day period. The last two stages are zoea and megalopa. Zoea have a jointed abdomen and a spined carapace behind the head with large eyes. Megalops have big eyes, an extended abdomen, elongated carapace and swimming legs. After the first molting, the form changes to that similar to the adults. Growth after this point occurs by shedding its shell, molting, at certain periods of time, until it reahces full growth (Headstrom 1979, Mash 1975).
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