Blue crab season likely slow to start

April 1 is the official start to the blue crab harvest in Maryland. But don’t reach for your mallet just yet.

“It’s not time for crabs,” said Jessica Borowski, a manager at Midtown BBQ and Brew. “It’s too cold out.”

The crabs seem to agree. The Chesapeake Bay’s water temperature hasn’t risen enough for the crabs to become active — and catchable.

Consumers set on Maryland crabs will see limited availability for now — and prices to match.

Prices for Chesapeake Bay crabs are typically high at the start of the season, and people who want them in April will have to pay even more than usual. But many consumers are just as happy eating hard-shell crabs from the Gulf Coast — where many local crab houses get their supplies throughout the year — and won’t see a price fluctuation.

For now, from Turkey Point to Tangier Sound, the beautiful swimmer, Callinectes sapidus, isn’t swimming. Instead of moving to shallower waters where crabbers can catch them, they’re staying warm deep in their muddy homes. This year temperatures in the bay for late March were slightly below the historic average for the month — but not dramatically so. It only seems that way compared to last year, when average March water temperatures were unusually high.

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