Alaska King Crab Expedition, 1940-1941

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In 1940, the Alaskan King Crab Expedition was commissioned by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of Interior) in order to study crab and the fishing industry in the vicinity of Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Established as a cooperative venture between government research agencies and the private fishing industry, the expedition’s goal was to identify crab concentrations in the region, and fishing methods needed to create a self-sustaining U.S. king crab industry. Work began in the fall of 1940 with expedition leaving Seattle on August 28. On September 12 a headquarters was established at Canoe Bay, off the northwest corner of Pavlof Bay, working there for 5 weeks, before continuing on to Alitak (near Kodiak Island), and finally the north side of Shelikof Strait, east of Kukak Bay. The expedition was undertaken with a variety of boats including the Tondeleyo and Dorothy, and it was completed aboard the Dorothy, Champion, and Locks in 1941. These private vessels were chartered by the eight staff members of the Alaska Crab Investigation Staff of the Fishery Technical Laboratory in Seattle with money provided by the U.S. government. Participants included Dr. Waldo Schmitt from the US National Museum. Investigations focused on observations of the distribution and biology of the crabs, as well as other marine animals. Studies included fishing sites, populations, and canneries. Additional collecting sites and locations in Alaska and the Aleutians visited during the expedition include Port Ashton, Squaw Harbor, Cold Bay, and Olga Bay. In total, over 100 bays, coves, lagoons, ports, and harbors were surveyed.


  • US National Museum. (1943) Report on the Progress and Condition of the United States National Museum for the Year Ended June 30, 1941. Retrieved from
  • Zimmermann, Mark and Dew, C Braxton and Malley, Beverly A. (2009) History of Alaska Red King Crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, bottom trawl surveys, 1940–61. Marine Fisheries Review, 71(1), pp. 1-22. Retrieved from

Date Range

1940 - 1941


  • Zoology
  • Biology


  • Cold Bay
  • Canoe Bay
  • United States
  • Aleutian Islands
  • Olga Bay
  • Kodiak Island
  • Alaska
  • Kukak Bay


Expedition name