Marine Fisheries Research: Charles Crawford

Crawford's work sheds light on the health of Florida's stone crab populations while satisfying his curiosity.

 Charles Crawford

Charles R. Crawford
Marine Research Associate: Crustacean Fisheries
St. Petersburg, FL

B.S.– Marine Science, South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina
M.S. – Marine Science, University of South Florida

I started working at the institute in February 1994 – on a Monday. Before that, I worked at a fish hatchery in Illinois and for the Nature Conservancy in South Carolina.

What are you working on now?
Most of my scientific work right now is focused on stone crabs, specifically fishery-related research. Currently, I am working on a paper investigating mortality (death) rates of declawed stone crabs and determining the different influences on those mortality rates, including quality of the claw break; abiotic (nonliving) environmental factors such as water salinity, temperature and pH (acidity); and whether one or two claws were harvested.

How is this information beneficial?
It will be beneficial on many different levels. Personally, it will satisfy my curiosity. Scientifically, it will provide information that can be used in stone crab stock assessment. It will also reveal best conservation practices stone crab fishermen can implement to improve survival of crabs after harvest, which will ensure the sustainability of the fishery and overall health of the stone crab population.

What is your typical work day like? 
I am either in the office doing data analysis, writing reports and helping out with whatever is needed, or am on the boat pulling stone crab traps.

What is your greatest career accomplishment? 
I have not achieved it yet, but, in general, I am pretty proud of all the work we do in the crustaceans group. I really enjoyed a study we did several years back on bycatch reduction devices in shrimp nets and the papers that came from that work.

What are some of your biggest challenges? 
Not getting pinched by the crabs or losing a finger, especially when working with blue crabs. After that, it would be knowing and trying to follow all the purchasing requirements and policies. Database management is also challenging.

What do you like most about your career? 
The glamorous life style it allows me to live. I really enjoy the variety of work – going out on the water for some physically challenging work and working in the office, analyzing data, which is intellectually challenging. 

Was this your original career interest? Why or why not? 
Yes. It had to be encoded in my chromosomes. I knew since the age of 5, or before, that I wanted to become a marine biologist, which was unusual for a kid growing up in Illinois. Ending up with the crustaceans group was sort of a surprise to me. It was somewhat unexpected as it was happening, yet here I am.

What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in science? 
I’d be a fry cook on Venus. Or, I would just walk the Earth. You know, walk the earth, meet people, get into adventures. Like Caine from “Kung Fu.”

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in your field?
You must have some degree of passion for it, as it is not for everyone and you will most likely not end up making a lot of money. Though, I do hear it happens, but you have to give up the field-work aspect of the job. No matter what field you go into, you better at the least enjoy, to some degree, what you do because you will be doing it every day for a very long time. And try to live to the east of where you work. That way, when you are driving to work the sunrise is not in your eyes and the sunset does not blind you on the way home. Good advice. Write that down.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 
Soccer, beach volleyball, mountain biking, downhill skiing, kayaking and, of course, scuba diving. I also enjoy reading a good book, watching a good movie and spending time with my pups.



FWC Facts:
Groupers are very slow-growing fish, taking anywhere from 4-8 years to reach sexual maturity.

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