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The Warm Winter May Mean Seafood Sooner

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If warm, dry weather feels good to us, we aren’t alone. It’s also been having an impact on crabs and fish in the bay.

Alex DeMetrick reports it could mean seafood sooner.

The winter that wasn’t not only kept the Chesapeake from turning to ice, it kept water warmer than usual. As a result…

“We’ve already heard from some fishermen that they’re beginning to see crabs move and the peeler run begin a little earlier this year,” said Tom O’Connell, DNR Fisheries.

And while it’s still too soon to tell how abundant crabs will be, odds are watermen may be catching them earlier than usual. It’s already proving to be the case for fin fish.

“The white perch, the yellow perch and some of the shad runs; everything seems to be seven to 10 days ahead of schedule,” O’Connell said.

The habitat crabs and fish depended on in the bay may also benefit from the weather.

“We have had a very dry March, looking to have a very dry April, so that could be good news in terms of the size of the dead zone, the area that doesn’t have oxygen for the things that live in the bay,” said Beth McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Dead zones are created by algae blooms, which are fed by nutrients that run off the land in rainstorms. Less rain means less algae. Dry weather also means less sediment and clearer water. That in turn promotes underwater grasses, critical habitat for fish and crabs.

“The dry years are typically the years grasses do very well, but again, it’s a little too early to tell,” McGee said.

It all depends on the weather staying dry and warm.

One bay species that might also benefit from the weather is not the most welcome one. Dry years produce a lot of jellyfish.

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