Description: Also known as the Chesapeake blue crab or the Atlantic blue crab, these crabs are strong swimmers due largely to their fifth pair of legs which are shaped like paddles. They are striking to spot with their bright blue claws and olive color carapace. The claws on the adult female blue crab are tipped with red.
Size: Males can be 7-8 inches across. Females are smaller in size.
Diet: These crabs are predacious and scavange for food. They have been known to eat other crustaceans, recently dead fish, plant materials, clams, oysters, worms, insects and mussels.
Typical Lifespan: 3-4 years
Habitat: Estuaries and salt marshes
Range: Widely distributed along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and introduced in other parts of the world.
Life History and Reproduction: Mating season occurs between May and October. A male will mate with a female after she has completed her final molt and she has a soft shell. The female will lay up to 2 million eggs in a spongy mass that starts off an orangish color but gets to be closer to black as it comes time for the crabs to hatch. Blue crabs undergo several different developmental stages to reach adulthood.
Fun Fact: The blue crab's scientific name Callinectes sapidus means "beautiful savory swimmer."
Conservation Status: This species plays an incredibly important role in our economy. Habitat loss and nutrient loading are some of the larger issues these species face.
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