The start of spring in the D.C. region doesn’t just mean cherry blossoms — it’s also the beginning of crabbing season for Maryland’s famous blue crabs. This year’s unusually cold winter means that the season is getting off to a slow start.
Crabs in the Chesapeake Bay are happiest when the water isn’t too cold, and no big storms come through, but that wasn’t the case this past winter. In January, much of the Chesapeake Bay was frozen for more than a week; February brought four nor’easters; and the first day of spring was marked by a major snowstorm. The hard freeze may have killed some crabs, while the nor’easters might have pushed baby crab larvae out to sea.
But Dave Blazer from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says that the crabs just may be taking their time coming out.
“The crabs burrow down in the bottom of the bay over the wintertime, especially down at the mouth of the bay in Virginia, then a lot of them will migrate up,” Blazer said.
His department will release a harvest prediction in a few weeks, based on the results of the annual winter dredge survey.
In recent years, the crab population has been relatively healthy and stable, although last year the crabbing season was cut short by 10 days, after a slight decline.