By John Page Williams
Our blue crab (Callinectes sapidus, “most savory beautiful
swimmer”) and the Chesapeake Bay are forever entwined.
The former needs salt water for its eggs to hatch and larvae to
develop but achieves its most robust growth upstream in brackish
water. The latter offers a huge, shallow, rich-but-diverse foraging
ground with salinities ranging from fresh water to open Atlantic.
In fact, surface currents at the Bay’s mouth sweep crab larvae out
onto the continental shelf before a behavior change helps them
ride deep currents back in at later stages.
Equipped with a willingness to eat almost anything they can find
or catch, these crabs have thrived in the Chesapeake for millennia.
As young crabs, they seek out the lower Bay’s shallow eelgrass beds.