In a new report from NOAA, the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab population appears to be doing well. Numbers are down from a year ago but were well above the 20-year average. As weather plays a significant roll in the health of the Bay as we found out in our weather package last year, I found this more than appropriate to post on our weather page. Nearly all of the following was taken from this report.
The population of crabs dropped from an estimated 345 million crabs in 2010 to 207 million in 2011. Much of the loss in 2011 was due to the extremely cold water temperatures in the winter months. As the winter started off so cold with temperatures around 5 degrees below normal for the month of December 2010 and a degree below normal for January 2011, it didn't give crabs the opportunity to burrow into the mud for protection.
The actual harvest numbers aren't available yet, though in 2010, 91.6 million pounds of crab were harvested which is the largest since 1994 and 22 percent higher than the long term average. While this is good, conservation continues to be talked about as female numbers need to improve to near 215 million and males should increase to 200 million.
This would make sure there wouldn't be a great loss from such changes as cold snaps or flooding. If you remember back to our story about the health of the Bay, it has a lot to do with the amount of sub-aquatic vegetation, which acts to filter sediments, absorb nutrients and add oxygen to the water. So far this winter should be good weather-wise as it has been very temperate, though heavy rainfall today may make for some added run-off into the Bay later this week.
Be sure to follow @NOAAHabitat on Twitter for more on conservation or visit their website at http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/