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Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab population increased

Posted at 6:20 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 08:53:27-04

KENT ISLAND, Md. — Every winter the Department of Natural Resources does a survey of our Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs. They dredge the mud, where the crabs bury themselves in over the winter, at some 1,500 different sites around the bay, and the 2019 results are in.

The survey shows that juvenile crabs are up about 60 percent from 2018 numbers and female crabs are up almost 30 percent. Those numbers hint at a healthier and vibrant bay.

Bob Whitman is the owner of Stevensville Crab Shack. Whitman gets crabs from out of state at times, like every other crab house in Maryland. He and his clients like the good news about the crab population.

"People would rather have the fresh Maryland crabs than it would be getting crabs from Texas, Louisiana or out of state. It will bring the prices down a whole lot," said Whitman.

Unlike the winter of 2018, the 2019 winter did not have as many long or severe cold spells. That means more crabs survived hiding out in the mud over the winter. These new numbers are the best it's been in seven years.

John Margosian and Rick Lamp went to Kent Island to go fishing. The fishing wasn't great, but the crab cakes, shrimp and clams were.

"The Dungeoness crab and snow crab don't compare; king crab is interesting but it's different. The blue crab or the Bay crab is the best you can get, especially if you can get the big ones," said Margosian.

"The economy, I mean all of it. Especially this area, Kent Island and the Chesapeake Bay," said Lamp of the what the good news about crabs means tangibly.

Good numbers suggest improvements in the bay's water quality and that helps everybody.

"It helps a lot when the numbers are up because the crabbers are making money because they are catching crabs, and the people are happy because we have good local Maryland crabs," said Whitman.

So if we want this trend to continue we have to wish for a hot, dry summer. That means the crabs will be even more plentiful.