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Survey: Bay’s juvenile crab population is lowest since 1990

May 22, 2021 GMT

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — An annual survey of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs estimates that the population of juvenile crabs has fallen to its low level since the Maryland Department of Natural Resources started the survey more than 30 years ago.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the department’s review also found positive trends, including a rise in the bay’s population of spawning-age mature female crabs, from 141 million in 2020 to 158 million in 2021.

“Protecting spawning-age females is a critical component to maintaining a healthy and sustainable blue crab population,” Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said.

The total abundance of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay was 282 million, a below-average total largely attributed to the low juvenile numbers.

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The bay’s estimated population of juvenile crabs in 2021 was 86 million, the lowest tally since the survey started in 1990. The survey also found 39 million adult male crabs, below the long-term average of 77 million.

The Maryland natural resources department’s survey is a cooperative effort with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.