Maryland’s Blue Crabs Move to Maine

Once seen as a symbol of the Old Line State, Maryland’s Blue Crabs are migrating north due to climate change. 

The Blue Crab, one of Maryland’s oldest symbols and tastiest dishes, is heading north and can now be found as far as Maine. This marks the first time Blue Crabs no longer being exclusive to the Chesapeake Bay. As waters continue to warm in the northeast United States, populations of Blue Crabs have begun to establish themselves in the region.

According to NBC Boston,

“Blue crabs are typically seen south of us, but as far north as Massachusetts. And now we’re seeing them sort of infiltrate coastal waters of Maine, possibly due to temperature changes. So they’re shifting where they typically are, and we call that a range expansion. And so with that expansion comes the presence of these blue crab. In our marsh, in our estuaries, in our bays, and in our Gulf of Maine,” Goldstein said.

Since Blue Crabs are primarily found in warmer waters, scientists believe the new migration pattern is largely due to climate change. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than any other body of water worldwide. What is currently unclear is if other species will follow the Blue Crabs and how these newcomers will impact populations of Maine’s main crustacean – the Lobster.

What this means for Maryland

Maryland’s Blue Crab population has been in decline since the 1990s. The population peaked at just under 900 million in 1993, and in 2022 sits at about 227 million. Several pressures face Blue Crab populations, including harvesting, habitat loss, and predators. The best way to help keep these animals in the bay is through water quality improvements, underwater grass restoration, and proper fishery management. It’s unclear if Blue Crab populations will continue to decline. Any effort to keep this crustacean in Maryland will require major cooperation from all levels of government and the private sector.

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