Results from the 2020 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey, a cooperative effort between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, reveal that the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population maintains a healthy amount of spawning-age female crabs. The survey estimates that 141 million adult female crabs were conserved this year, which surpasses the long-term average of 126 million.
The results also indicate that there are 79 million male adult crabs, which is above the long-term average of 77 million. The 2020 survey reports a total of 405 million blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, which is a near-average abundance for 30 years of survey results.
While spawning-age crab populations improved, the number of juveniles declined to 185 million from 323 million last year. Environmental factors, including currents, temperature, and winds, greatly impact juvenile populations, and yearly variance is to be expected. The 2020 juvenile population is below the long-term average, but it is an improvement from 2018 figures and far above the 1992 low of 105 million, which indicates that the population remains in healthy, sustainable condition.
The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee will release its full analysis of the survey results in the 2020 Blue Crab Advisory Report this summer. Read more about the results here.