BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The “Maryland crabs” distinction is being challenged by no less than the governor of Virginia—and it’s brought a response from Maryland’s governor.
Alex DeMetrick reports crab citizenship is at stake.
They’re seen on car decals, on Maryland flag graphics and even a state lottery Keno game. Everybody knows Maryland is for crabs—but Virginia’s governor stirred things up in a radio interview.
“You know, Maryland talks about their crabs. If anyone from Maryland is listening, let me be very clear: all the crabs are born here in Virginia and because the current takes them there, they should really be Virginia crabs,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.
It’s hard to hear but he did say Virginia crabs.
“Oh no, no, no. This is the place you want to come get crabs: Maryland,” said Tony Walters, Fruitland Produce & Seafood.
Walters has been selling them for decades. At his business, it’s hard to find the word “crabs” without “Maryland” attached.
“A lot of people in Virginia don’t even eat crabs,” said Tim Walters.
Wednesday, Maryland’s governor weighed in with a statement, saying, “While a number of Chesapeake Bay crabs may, in fact, be born in Virginia, they rightfully return to the state of Maryland, where they survive and thrive, in our more welcoming, less salty waters. In fact, like most Virginians with any sense, the Virginia crabs eventually move north and become Marylanders.”
When it comes to a crab’s citizenship, science has a simple answer.
“The crabs don’t really recognize state boundaries at all,” said Jack Cover, National Aquarium. “In Maryland, the males generally stay up in the mid-waters. It’s only the females that will migrate down” to lay eggs in Virginia that eventually become baby crabs in Maryland—where an entire industry is devoted to catching them here when they grow up.
And according to people in the business, it’s big in Maryland because crabs are better in Maryland.
“The water’s so salty down there, they stay small. They never get real big; they mature too quickly. Down here, we got big crabs,” Tony Walters said.
It’s unlikely the good-natured needling by the two governors will lead to crab mallets at dawn—but if the feud intensifies, we’ll let you know.