Do Bay Blue Crabs hibernate in winter?

Tangier Island

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Double Dozen Crabs

Do Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs hibernate during the winter?

Yes, a timely question and one that shows concern about the ability for crabbers to pot lively crabs during colder months. Early in December, when the cold rains and falling temperatures chill the bay, blue crabs begin a migration to deeper waters that naturally stay above 32 °F. Most of the tidal areas and rivers will see a complete desertion of the blue crab. They swim into depths like “The Hole” a deep trench southeast of Annapolis near Bloody Point. Others even take the plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. Once in these winter spots, they find muddy or sandy bottoms and back into them with their strong swimming legs. Hiding on the bottom helps them escape predators and also keeps their bodies protected from the cold elements. Also, their normal sustenance of eel grass, snails, oysters don’t thrive in these depths, so they slow down and become dormant.

Crabbers know the pots pull up empty starting in late December, so warmer waters down in North Carolina and even more south deliver Maryland-Style Blue Crabs. These USA Blue Crabs naturally boast a buttery salty-sweet meat and American waterways have laws against pollution. Healthy waters give us a robust catch compared to the overseas variety. Knowing where to chart currents and tides, along with blue crab migrations ensure crab feasts from December to March. Near the end of March, the blue crab begins its migration back to the shallow waters. It’s all about knowing Mother Nature and how bay species respond. Even if bay’s blue crab season has turned the pots to southern waters, oysters teem during the colder months and also taste fresher in winter with an oceanic slightly metallic hint. See, your love of USA seafood is just as unbelievably delicious in the winter; just follow the seasonal changes!

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