By Alex DeMetrick

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ/AP) —  If you have a taste for blue crabs, population estimates show the Chesapeake will deliver this season.

But as Alex DeMetrick reports, the Chesapeake Bay won’t be delivering quite as many.

This past winter, state biologists spent months trying to get an estimate on the number of crabs in the bay. The winter dredge survey, a key measure of the health of the Chesapeake’s crab population, found the crabs are at the second highest level since 1997.  This year the crab population stands at 460 million crabs. That’s down from 658 million in 2010. But it’s still almost double the record low of 249 million in 2007.  It’s also well above the target for the third year in a row.

“While our population isn’t at the level it was last year, the numbers do represent progress compared to where we were a few years ago,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

“What we have are still a healthy abundance of spawning crabs, which is great, that’s what we’re looking for. That’s what we’re managing for,” said Lynn Fegley DNR Fisheries.

Lower numbers are still considered good, given what happened this past winter. A sudden freeze in early December hit Maryland crabs hard, killing off 31 percent of the adult population. That’s compared to 11 percent last year.  

Authorities say strict harvest limits helped make sure the crab population was not decimated over the winter. Harvest limits were put in place after previous surveys found a sharp drop in crab numbers.

The dredge survey is conducted by Maryland and Virginia and is the most comprehensive look at the bay’s crab population.

While the crabs are not unlimited, there should be plenty of crabs to go around this summer. What the state survey can’t predict is what crabs will cost you this summer, although with fuel prices high, odds are they won’t be cheap.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (32)
  1. williejoe says:

    Wanna bet the price of crabs will break anyone’s budget still?

  2. Doug says:

    And so what?
    Have you priced jumbo lump crab meat ?
    Only the rich and those sapping the system can afford to put it in their carts.
    Not I.

    1. Williejoe says:

      Doug, Apparently there’s enough (rich) people out there, (questionable on who is rich) that are buying this crabmeat. I have a place that is selling Lower Bay jumbo lump packed on the Eastern shore @ $31 a lb. It’s delicious, a bit expensive but not outrageous.

  3. Debbie says:

    Gee crabs are plentifuk, people may consider buying them, our legislators better hurry up and have a “special session” to institute a higher TAX on that. We wouldn’t want them to miss out on an oppoturnity to get more money to WASTE

  4. Jim says:

    I’ll wager to bet that this years crabs will far succeed in the prices of last years crab. And pray tell why is it that female crabs are allowed to be sold when they are so full of eggs, Duh Huh!

    1. matt says:

      it is illegal to keep sponge crabs. If anyone is selling a female full of eggs report them to the DNR. Just an fyi, a female full of eggs has a large spongy sac under her apron, not the orange stuff on the inside.

  5. Keith says:

    The crab population is up this year because now you need a license to go crabbing now. That is if you want to keep more than two dozen. The bay would be poluted with crabs if the D.N.R. would put a limit on all of the crab pots. You can’t go anywhere in the bay without having to avoid them (especially the mouth of the Magothy). It’s not the average Joe like myself who goes out to get a bushell to entertain friends and family it’s the comercial crabbers who put a hurting on the population. Even with the crab count up you won’t be able to find a bushell of # 1 crabs for under $150.00 because of the gas prices being so crazy.

    1. don't be a crab says:

      So many misguided posts here…first off there are already limits on how many pots can be set, but that is not enforced. Second, recreational crabbers have been required for 5 years or so to be licensed, nothing new.

      It amazes me the number of people that live here in Maryland that are clueless about crabs, regulations on crabbing etc. “The crab pots are everywhere, waa waa waa”

      1. sheriff willie says:

        Don’t be a crab, STFU Turd. The only thing people have to know is How much are they going to have to pay?…All the rest like you is B.S.

      2. don't be a crab says:

        You are just jealous because most crabs are smarter than you.

      3. sheriff willie says:

        don’t be a crab, Ok, you got more crabs than most people but they happen to be the ones crawling around your doo -dads

      4. don't be a crab says:

        That “clever” attempt at humor proves my point above, you are dumber than a hard crab

  6. sheriff willie says:

    It’s called supply & demand folks. They will set the price & artificially set the supply so the demand will skyrocket & result in huge profits for the distributors.

  7. whatnow says:

    Plentiful or not, the price wont come down. I have eaten crabs all my life, back when you could get them on the side of the road for $3.50 for a dozen of large. But I haven’t purchased crabs in 7 years. I cannot afford them. It is a shame.

    1. eatthemdaily says:

      buy $1.00 crabs. you can afford them.

      1. Barb says:

        I get delicious $1 MARYLAND crabs from Lowers Crab Shack in Essex off of Rossville Boulevard. Their seasoning is the BEST I have ever tasted! Usually the $1 crabs are on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Order early in the season. Can’t beat it.

  8. JC says:

    I haven’t wasted my hard earned money on blue crabs for a long time now. There are many other, cheaper and more delicious seafoods out there. Virginia is for lovers and Maryland is for suckers.

    1. Barb says:

      Then why the hell are you on OUR Maryland news site? Go back to VA and don’t let the door hit ya!

  9. jack johnson says:

    damn, i just go crabbing myself, i always get more than enough

  10. sven says:

    Thankfully, we have a great Governor who has taken it upon himself to save the Chesapeake Bay.

    You can all thank the O’Malley administration for this great news.

    If we left this up to the conservatives, they’d be drilling for oil and lining their pockets.

    I’m so glad this State has rid itself of the Ehrlich family, now if WBAhell would do the same.

    1. overregulated says:

      If he is such a great governor who cares so much about the Bay, then where is his outrage over the 40,000 gallon sewage spill from the weekend?

      Crabs populations work in cycles, always have. Best numbers since 97. O’Malley did not increase the population then or now. Lets not break our arms patting O’Malley on the back. Water conditions and weather patterns are the major players.

      There were enough regulations historically speaking to keep the populations up.

      Answer this question: Why did DNR in 1987 change the longstanding law that did not allow taking sponge crabs to allow them to be harvested?

      Ehrlich made sure to fund Chesapeake Bay cleanup which O’Malley stole and put in the general fund

      Another liberal with head in rear end

  11. Dbrianp says:

    “although with fuel prices high, odds are they won’t be cheap” What…do the crabs drive SUV’s??? I know it can’t take much gas to get them to market in Maryland!

    1. whatnow says:

      Crabs don’t jump out of the bay into a brown bag already dead and seasoned. You need gas for the boats which don’t get good mileage to the pots and back home, gas to get from the boats to where they are being sold, the ones you get in the city may have been caught in southern AA county. Plus Natural gas to or electric to heat the pots and steam the crabs. That adds up.

      1. eddie says:

        Leave em out in the sun to cook naturally.

    2. thomas says:

      You speak like a man with a paper a$$ hole.

  12. Heidi McGahan says:

    I am introducing crab cakes to Tasmania. We have crabs here, but no one here ever heard of crab cakes. Pretty soon folks in Tasmania will know they have a gal from Maryland living among them. I even had to mix my own Old Bay Seasoning, because customs won’t allow the spice to be shipped here, but I figured it out. They are just jealous!!!!!!!!!!! Go Maryland!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. davw gb says:

    go to cravens crabs in baltimore countyon old annapolis rd they sell crabs for $1.00 apeice just buy what you want to eat got some the other day not bad for this early only paid 6 bucks for 6 crabs and was plenty for me. and no I don’t work there just know this from last year it was their first year they opened pretty good crabs no matter what size you get

  14. nic says:

    I heard that will be no soft crabs this year,,,,A truck load of Viagra fell in the bay!!!!LOLOLOLOL

    thank you thank you
    I’m here till 5
    make sure you order veal
    thank you thank you

  15. diane says:

    we got blue crabs 1/2 bu they cost 120.00 number ones but they was smalls ones too,,,, called the place that we got them from and they said they gave us the little ones for free,,,, you dont get free things

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