With too few males, blue crab population may be put at riskThe practice of selectively fishing male blue crabs in the Chesapeake—intended to give females a chance to reproduce—may have a hidden cost. A Bay without enough males could reduce the number of offspring females produce, ecologists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center wrote in a paper published in the July issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Maryland and Virginia began reducing the harvest of female crabs by commercial and recreational watermen in 2008, the year officials declared the blue crab fishery a federal disaster. Since then, the crabs have shown signs of a shaky recovery. But a lasting comeback hinges on females producing enough offspring.
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There are likely to be multiple causes of the poor blue crab season this summer in Chesapeake Bay. The process of sperm reduction described in this article may be one of those causes but is not likely the most important factor. Other factors such as harvest, habitat loss, and disease likely have a greater impact on the population.
The article is based on:
Ogburn MB, Roberts PM, Richie KD, Johnson EG, Hines AH
Temporal and spatial variation in sperm stores in mature female blue crabs Callinectes sapidus and potential effects on brood production in Chesapeake Bay