The winter survey by Maryland and Virginia scientists released in early May indicated that the Bay’s crab population had grown 60%.
The survey estimated 594 million crabs, the highest total since 2012.
While Virginia watermen were said to be pulling in more crabs than last year, some Maryland watermen were left struggling during spring and summer holidays.
Reading the tea leaves of the winter survey can be tricky, and other events can affect harvest totals.
The winter survey did find an abundance of crabs, however, 60% of them were juveniles which would have to be thrown back until they grew big enough, either late in the season or next year.
The adult male crabs that were large enough to be harvested through the first half of the season are counted up from last season. Last year’s survey accounted for a 20% drop in Jimmys.
Heavy rains and record freshwater flows lowered salinity in the upper Bay and may have driven crabs down the Bay. Adult male crabs tend to prefer salinity ranging from 3 to 15 parts per thousand–the levels in Maryland’s waters were lower from heavy rainfall.