DEPTH PREFERENCES OF OVERWINTERTING JUVENILE BLUE CRABS (CALLINECTES SAPIDUS) IN THE MARYLAND WATERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY: A LOCAL SEASONAL STUDY AND PRELIMINARY SHALLOW WATER SURVEY
Kaufman, Anthony Gartner
Miller, Thomas J
Johnson, Eric G
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A series of experimental studies designed to quantify the spatial and temporal patterns of juvenile blue crabs abundance in upper Chesapeake Bay, with an emphasis on the depth distribution during the winter, were conducted. A seasonal sampling of the Rhode and West Rivers was conducted. Concurrently, a pilot-scale shallow water survey (SWS) in four river systems throughout Maryland allowed the abundance of juvenile blue crabs to be estimated and compared to abundance estimates from the Winter Dredge Survey (WDS). The seasonal study results indicated that depth, sediment type and the time of year sampling took place were a significant predictor of juvenile blue crabs distribution and abundance. The SWS indicated that the abundance of juvenile blue crabs is underestimated by the WDS. This work highlights the potential need for additional surveys to index the abundance of juvenile blue crabs as an aid to ongoing management and conservation efforts.