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Survey finds sharp decline of crabs in bay

A recent survey shows the number of spawning-age female crabs is up, but poor reproduction means fewer crabs overall in the Chesapeake Bay.

Results of the annual scientific winter dredge survey of the bay-wide blue crab population, a study conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, show that the overall abundance of blue crabs dropped significantly, from 765 million to 300 million crabs. John Bull, a spokesman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, said this drop was because the number of juvenile crabs plummeted from 581 million to a mere 111 million.

"This is disappointing, but it is not a disaster and not without precedent," said Jack Travelstead, head of VMRC. "Crab spawning naturally fluctuates and can be impacted by wind, tide, weather and increased predation on juvenile crabs by other species," he said. "Clearly, we are in no position to expand the commercial harvest this year."

While the overall crab po...

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