The famous Blue Crab represents the most important
shellfish harvested in the Chesapeake Bay. They can be found virtually
anywhere, but typically prefer the brackish waters of tidal rivers,
creeks and tributaries. Blue crabs are bottom dwelling scavengers that
will feed on practically any type of living or dead animal, eelgrass,
sea lettuce, and decaying vegetables.
Blue crabs have an aggressive behavior
and will fight any other animal regardless of its size. When confronted
they will click their claws together, and pinch down and lock to anything
within their reach. They can walk rapidly along the bottom and travel
long distances swimming in a sideways motion.
Crabs grow by molting or shedding their
shell. When the outer rim of their paddles turns pink or red they're
called a "peeler because it's a sign that they are ready to shed
their shell. After molting the new shell is soft and pliable and will
gradually harden over the course of 2-3 days. During this time they
are defenseless and will often hide in eelgrass or cling to pilings.
The supply of blue crabs in the bay was
once thought to inexhaustible, however, recent over crabbing has depleted
the stock to the point where conservation measures are now necessary.