Species Profile of the Maryland Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus)
American Public University System
The Callinectes sapidus also known commonly as the Maryland Blue Crab, is a crustacean found in the Chesapeake Bay. The blue crab is found in aquatic environments, most often in estuaries. It characterized by it’s blue claws. The blue crabs undergo a life cycle of: zoeae, megalop, juvenile, and adulthood. The blue crab’s hard shells serve as a protective barrier for external dangers. The Callinectes sapidus comes from the order of Decapods, whereby it’s carapace has now evolved to be better suited for swimming. Of interest is the blue crab’s mating…show more content… It shares ancestral background with shrimp and lobsters. They are omnivores with their prey being mussels, fish, plants, and smaller blue crabs (Society). Although the Blue Crab is well established within its ecosystem it is highly sensitive to environmental and habitat changes ("Blue Crab, Maryland State Crustacean", 2016). The detrimental conditions of the Chesapeake Bay have affected the populations of Blue Crabs along with over harvesting.
Life Cycle The life cycle of a Blue Crab involves Zoeae, Megalops, Juveniles, and Adulthood (Zinski, 2006) (“Blue Crab Life Cycle, 2016). Mating occurs only once for female crabs. Female crabs undergo a pubertal mold which is indicative of a sexually mature state in their life cycle. During the pubertal molt females release pheromones which attract males. The actual ritual of mating does not occur until females molt their shells (Zinski, 2006). At which point females will then retreat to high salinity water to begin spawning. Spawning will occur for the first time 2-9 months after mating. Interestingly, males will protect females during the period which females have molted and it is at this point in which mating occurs (Hill, 2004). As previously mentioned Blue Crabs are highly susceptible to changes in environmental conditions. As an example, larvae require high salinity waters. Larvae require salinity of at least 20 ppt and below that threshold, there is poor likelihood of survival ability.