Do Blue Crabs Migrate?

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Extreme heat and frigid cold stir both jumbo and bay blue crabs into survival mode. Wily and energetic younger crabs, 5”-6” lead the swim to more comfortable waters, while the jumbo and behemoth burrow in mud for comfort from Mother Nature’s wrath. Early spring spells everything north and upstream. Both jimmy (male) and sook (female) make the commute for mating and to dine on the new life along and in the waters. Eelgrass, insects, and snails serve as a starter. Once fertilized, the sooks travel back into the lower bay to spawn, while a large quantity of the males stay upstream. Crabbers know this habit and reap the benefits in charting and potting crabs based on their crab house demands.

Summer days set out a smorgasbord of nourishment for all blue crabs. Small fish, larger insects, and smaller crustaceans lead the charge. The higher the temperature leads the crabs toward deeper water for an ideal 70°F. Fall takes this stage to a “Fat Crab Season” level. With the temperature shift, they begin to liven their swimming toward food supplies that will help them for the impending winter. Their meat becomes compacted and buttery from the increased tomalley or crab fat.

Finally, winter sets the sun on another crab season up north and the crabbers make their own migration to southern waters like the Gulf of Mexico and sounds and straits in Florida. Even though the bay begins a “sleep” for many species, some come to life like the oyster beds and the crisp, cool oysters ready for a harvesting! Briny sweet with a metallic, melon like finish, these oysters also attract some of the die-hard blue crabs. Most blue crabs, however travel to the bays’ depths and burrow into the mud, while others travel to the mouth to the ocean. See, blue crabs migrate for survival which proves their resilience, along with the crabber who seeks out the southern blue crab “cousins” to keep the crab house steaming full year!

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