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Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population Remains Healthy Despite Significant Decline In Juvenile Crabs, DNR Says

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay remained near average despite a significant decline in the number of juvenile crabs, the Maryland DNR said Wednesday.

The DNR and Virginia Institute of Marine Science released their 2020 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey Wednesday. The survey found there was a total of 405 million crabs in the bay, down from an estimated 594 million in 2019 but still within the average for the past 30 years.

One notable change was the decline in the number of juvenile crabs. In 2019, the survey estimated the population at 323 million, while in 2020 that dropped to 185 million.

"Juvenile abundance is largely driven by environmental factors, such as currents, temperature, and winds, therefore year-to-year variability is expected," the DNR said in a news release.

Other numbers were more comparable to last year. The number of adult male crabs in the bay this winter as 79 million, similar to the number in 2019.

The survey also estimated the number of adult female crabs at 141 million, above the long-term average of 126 million but down from 190 million last year.

"While there are some expected fluctuations, our collective management efforts continue to enable the population to stay resilient and sustainable," Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said in the release. "Maryland blue crabs remain an iconic part of our heritage and our environment."

A full report and analysis is expected to be released this summer.

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