Friday, December 2, 2022

Maryland Crabs Invade Maine

Well, maybe. NBC Boston, Blue Crabs Now Migrating to Maine From Chesapeake Bay

Blue crabs are now in Maine.

This means they are no longer exclusive to Chesapeake Bay. The Gulf of Maine continues to warm at the fastest rate of any body of water in the world in the last five years. And this could be a reason why the crabs are expanding their migration pattern northward.

In one year scientists found one dead crab in the marsh, “to seven live blue crabs in a marsh pool. So that was definitely really surprising. And we decided we really need to start investigating this,” said Laura Crane, a researcher at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells Maine.

Crane is helping to track these crustaceans, alongside Jason Goldstein and other researchers, scientists, and volunteers from the community. They periodically check crab traps and are starting to document the crab movements.


"Blue crabs are typically seen south of us, but as far north as Massachusetts. And now we're seeing them sort of infiltrate coastal waters of Maine, possibly due to temperature changes. So they're shifting where they typically are, and we call that a range expansion. And so with that expansion comes the presence of these blue crab. In our marsh, in our estuaries, in our bays, and in our Gulf of Maine,” Goldstein said.

Blue crabs are a warm water species so it is surprising that they are in such a historically cold body of water. And especially where lobster is king. We may see more blue crabs and other species move in the water warms.

”The Gulf of Maine could potentially stay a hospitable environment for them to live, and they could potentially set up long-term populations by doing these the long-term monitoring,” Goldstein explained.

Well, they never were "exclusive" to Chesapeake Bay (as the story admits later on) ranging from Massachusetts to South America, and crabs are ocean spawners, so the larvae (zoea) rely on ocean currents to bring them back into the coastal zone, and bays, where they settle and morph into adult crabs. Clearly, currents are bringing them into the Gulf of Maine, and a few of them are succeeding in settling and growing up. Climate change, or a temporary aberration? Only time will tell. As for the crabs in Chesapeake Bay, WBOC Delmarva, Maryland Watermen Reflect on 2022 Blue Crab Season

"It started out a little on the rough side... because the state had said there weren't as many little crabs," said Newberry. "But we found basically baywide, you know, there were a fair amount of little crabs. Especially in the northern bay at the start of the season."

Newberry says the season hit its peak at the midway point.

"A load of crabs were caught in the last month, month and a half of the season," said Newberry. "There were a lot of crabs that were what we call white crabs which are paper shells, a lot of the guys in the northern bay threw them back because there was no market for it those crabs grew to be bigger crabs and they're going to be there next year I think this year will be better than next year."


But the watermen ran into an issue on land. There was little demand for crabs from the public.

"The problem was we had more crabs but half the price we were getting last year. Towards the end of the season we were getting 200 a bushel. It went to 90 this year," said Newberry. "People didn't have that extra luxury money to spend because by the time they get off and steamed and on the market, they're 200 a bushel. It was quite a hit for these guys to take. Everything else our bait was through the roof our fuel was through the roof but the price of crabs wasn't."

Newberry says he is hoping for a better season come next year.

Crabbers are a lot like farmers. When the weather is bad and the crops don't grow, they complain they don't have enough to sell and make money. When they have a good year, they complain that the abundant supply is driving down prices. 

The Wombat has Rule 5 Monday: HMS Foxhound/HMCS Qu’Appelle out on time and under budget at The Other McCain.

1 comment:

  1. You find blue crabs in waters with lobster, so I am not surprised. Some creep of territory of blue crabs north is hardly surprising.