Maryland is famous for its signature Maryland blue crab due to its close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. Although found in other areas, these “True Blue Certified” crabs have a slightly different taste because of their hibernation needs. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources about 50% of blue crabs in the United States come from the Chesapeake Bay which contributes roughly 600 million dollars annually to the Maryland economy. Maryland is currently in the middle of crab season, which is April 1st through December 15th.
The 2019 crab season is strong both for the blue crab population and crab prices. The number of young crabs has doubled and female mating age crabs have increased 29%. These are positive signs for a sustainable population. The total population is about 600 million, which is the highest it has been in seven years. There are plenty of adult crabs ready to be caught and predictions indicate there will be even more crabs in 2020. This upturn could be the result of a healthier Chesapeake Bay.
In terms of price, the Baltimore Sun conducted a cost study of 29 crab shacks in the Baltimore area. The prices averaged $347 for a bushel (6 to 7 dozen crabs) and $70 for 12 large adult male crabs.
According to Maryland law, crabs caught from April 1st to July 14th must be 5 inches across (from point to point); crabs caught from July 15th to Dec 15th must be 5¼ inches across.
A soft-shell crab is a crab that has recently molted. The crab should be removed from the water as soon as it molts to prevent the shell from hardening. Crabs molt around 20 times during their lifetime.
The scientific name for blue crabs is Callinectes sapdius, which means “beautiful savory swimmer.”