Chesapeake Bay Algae Bloom Affects Crab Season

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Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s already been a rough season for Maryland crabs—and now there’s word that it could get worse. Massive rain last week has led to an algae bloom in the Chesapeake Bay.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the impact it could have.

Some Maryland crabbers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in two decades and the latest algae bloom is not going to help.

Record setting rainfall last week caused massive flooding and damage. Now all that storm water runoff may be doing damage on the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.

“It brought in a lot of nutrients and those nutrients feed algae that grow in the water and ultimately those algae can sink and die and use up oxygen in the water,” said Peyton Robertson, director of NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay office.

That lack of oxygen could kill off Maryland crabs.

Robertson has been monitoring algae levels using data collecting buoys in the bay.

“What we noticed after the storm was that the amount of phytoplankton at the buoy location at the Patapsco and in Annapolis down in the Potomac River,” he said.

And what happens here on the water could have a big impact on what you see on the dining room table.

“Maryland crab tastes better. It’s got the yellow mustard. It’s a phenomenal crab. You just can’t get them,” said Tony Piera, Mike’s Restaurant and Crab House in Riva.

He says Maryland crabs are nearly impossible to find this season.

“My crabbers are saying it’s because the bay’s dirty. There’s no sea grass and they’re saying it’s the worst it’s been in 20 years,” he said.

Most seafood restaurants are being forced to ship in crabs from Louisiana and Texas—a major hit to the wallet.

This latest algae bloom is another potential blow for those who make their living on Maryland crabs.

Researchers say they won’t know the full impact this latest storm had on the bay until later this year.

To monitor the algae readings from the NOAA’s buoy system on the Chesapeake Bay, click here.

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