New research from the University of Delaware suggests there is a ghost crab pot problem in the state’s Inland Bays, with almost 3.5 abandoned crab pots per acre just along the Bay Cove section of Rehoboth Bay near Dewey Beach.
The lost or abandoned pots can cause injury to swimmers, damage boat propellers and have the potential to create a cycle of trapping and killing area sea creatures.
The researchers used a side-scan sonar device to explore the area, opting for a low-cost, consumer-friendly system—one that could be found at outdoor stores and are usually utilized by recreational fisherman. In addition to getting an initial scope of the problem, they sought to develop a method of tracking the pots that could be used by agencies, private citizens or civic groups to help aid in future mapping and removal efforts.
“We did 21 acres in Bay Cove and saw more than 75 ghost pots, so that’s 3.5 per acre,” said Art Trembanis, associate professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy. “Once we ground truthed the sonar data and knew that we were seeing pots, it was a crestfallen sort of shock.”
You can learn more about their work here.