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Blue Crabs Aplenty

Population highest since 2012

      Callinectes sapidus, our beautiful swimmers, seem to be thriving on moderate winters in a healthier Bay. The Chesapeake is full of more crabs than in any year since 2012, according to winter’s annual whole-Bay census, taken by the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the Virginia Institute of Marine Biology.

         This year, a healthy 594 million crabs were counted. 2012’s count of 765 million was the third highest since 1990, topped only by 1993’s 852 million and 1991’s 828 million.

         The count tallies crabs but also vitality in two important elements of a healthy population: mothers-to-be and youngsters. At about 180 million, spawning-age females were well above the 70 million threshold of necessity but below the target population of 215 million.

         At about 340 million, juveniles were nearly twice as numerous as a year ago and above the 30-year average.

         Crabs are sampled at 1,500 randomly selected sites, pulled sleeping out of the mud by a dredge for counting and measurement.

         “This is another year of positive news for crabs in the Bay thanks to wise management of the commercial and recreational fisheries for blue crabs,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation ecosystem scientist Chris Moore. “We hope the Bay states will continue their wise management policies and water quality investments to maintain these promising numbers.”