Can we have our crabs and eat them too?

Published June 25, 2008

Maryland blue crab populations have been declining throughout the area.For Marylanders summer time is the season for steamed crabs! The Chesapeake Bay has been home to the blue crab for over a century. The blue crab became so prevalent in the Bay that this beloved crustacean evolved into the unofficial mascot. Unfortunately, Maryland’s love for the blue crab has led to overfishing and habitat degradation – resulting in a drastic drop in crab population. The population level of blue crabs is at or near the lowest ever recorded. Today, only one out of a million nearly hatched crabs survives to maturity because of disease, predators, habitat loss, sudden cold temperatures, and over harvesting.   This year Maryland legislators voted to end the crab harvesting season seven weeks early in an effort to give the blue crab a "breather" and boost the population. While legislators are working tirelessly to restore the state of the Bay and crab population, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is taking action through education and habitat restoration projects.     The Aquarium sponsors a program called AquaPartners that educates students on how to preserve the bay and participants have the opportunity to catch, hold, and release a crab. The Aquarium also organizes volunteer conservation clean ups and educational events that teach the community how to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its many mascots. And many of the exhibits at the Aquarium highlight the environmental issues surrounding Maryland’s coastal habitats. Be sure to visit aqua.org for more information on how you can contribute to the restoration of the blue crab. Do your part for them now, and they'll be around to enjoy for years to come! 
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