Length - 8 – 9 inches
Weight - 1 - 2 lbs.
The blue crab is found in along the Atlantic Coast from Nova Scotia to Argentina, and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. These flavorful crabs are also found in Japan, Europe and Central America as well.
These crabs utilize coastal habitats with substantial freshwater input throughout the year. However, this species moves into deeper waters with higher salinities during the spawning season.
Blue crabs are omnivorous, and often feed on a variety of bivalves, small fish, annelids, and plants.
Female blue crabs only mate once in their lifetime, and will store the sperm of male crabs for up to a year after this mating period to fertilize her eggs with. One female blue crab can produce over 8 million eggs throughout her lifetime. The fertilized eggs are held by the female in an orange glob within her pleopods for 15 days. Within 2 months the newly hatched larvae develop into juvenile blue crabs ready for settlement. Blue crabs live for 1 to 3 years.
Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
The blue crab fishery is of great economic importance throughout its range in the United States. Both Maryland area and Louisiana are well known for their signature blue crab seafood dishes. At one point the blue crab harvest was valued at nearly 200 million dollars annually. Although the value of annual harvest remains above 50 million dollars today, declining stocks and increased regulations are restraining the productivity of this fishery. The potential to produce this species under aquaculture in the future could alleviate the pressures on wild stocks and generate substantial economic benefits.
While many subpopulations of blue crab are struggling, the Marine Stewardship Council has certified blue crabs harvested from Louisiana’s Gulf Coast as sustainable.