This Week in the Watershed

Underwater grasses, which depend on clean water, are key to the survival of the blue crab. Photo by Jay Fleming.

Without a doubt, one of the most beloved critters in the Chesapeake Bay is the blue crab. A summer staple of dinner plates, the blue crab is not only ingrained in Bay cuisine, but also in the Bay's culture, history, and economy. Considering the importance of this cantankerous critter, it has always been troubling that its population is notoriously unpredictable. Many factors impact its population in a cycle that can often be boom or bust. In efforts to improve blue crab numbers, harvest restrictions are often considered as one of the most important steps to take. While harvest restrictions are vital, particularly on females, there might be an even more important factor--clean water.

Pardon the nautical pun, but clean water is "the rising tide that lifts all boats." For blue crabs, underwater grasses are critical to their survival. Blue crabs are most vulnerable when they are shedding their shell, and underwater grasses provide the cover they need to survive. However, underwater grasses are few and far between when pollution, largely from excess nitrogen and phosphorus, blocks the sunlight that grasses need to grow. Clean water not only helps blue crabs, but all flora and fauna living in and on the Bay. Not to mention, humanity benefits from clean water as well, with expanded recreational opportunities, improved public health, and massive economic benefits.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is the key to moving clean water efforts forward in the Bay. And a clean Bay, full of healthy, swimming blue crabs, is a legacy worth leaving to future generations. To learn more about all things blue crabs, tune into the most recent CBF podcast!

This Week in the Watershed: Burgeoning Blue Crabs, A City Showdown, and An Island Predicament

  • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan focused attention on the sediment buildup behind the Conowingo Dam, calling for new ideas to address the pollution problem. (Baltimore Sun--MD)
  • A public hearing on the coal ash ponds at the Chesterfield Power Station drew a large contingent of speakers imploring state regulators to impose stricter environmental requirements on Dominion Virginia Power. (Richmond Times-Dispatch--VA)
  • Animal rights groups are calling attention to the unethical hunting of cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay. (York Dispatch--PA)
  • Improved water quality and underwater grasses have helped produce more--and bigger--crabs this season. (Bay Journal)
  • The successful renovations at the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant are a high note amidst a national crisis of failing infrastructure. (Center for Progressive Reform Blog)
  • Virginia's Tangier Island faces an uncertain future. (New York Times Magazine)
  • Lawrence County in western Pennsylvania became the latest county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, becoming the 27th county in Pennsylvania to ask state officials to make clean water a priority. (New Castle News--PA) 
  • The cities of Boston and Baltimore have seen vastly different outcomes of local water cleanup efforts. (Baltimore Brew--MD)
  • Pennsylvania farms might face new federal inspections in light of the state not being on track to meet its 2025 pollution-reduction targets. (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal--PA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

July 15, 22, 29

  • Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay--join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. 

July 22

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Join CBF for an early morning outdoors! We are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of property maintenance at the Brock Center and Pleasure House Point. We can use your help anytime from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Activities will include cutting back phragmites around the site, removing Japanese sedge, and checking in on Libby's Garden and the rain gardens. If you are interested, please send us an email at or call 757-622-1964. Please share with us your name, home or cell number, and your email address so we can stay in touch in case of any changes. Also please let us know if you can come out for an hour or all three hours.

July 26

  • Annapolis, MD: Wondering how your favorite Bay critters are doing? Join CBF Fisheries Director Bill Goldsborough to learn the latest about what's happening underwater beneath your boat, kayak, or paddleboard! Our summer "Save the Bay" Breakfast features an ecology crash-course and updates on the health of three of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic fishery species: oysters, striped bass, and blue crabs--plus a menhaden bonus! Come enjoy a delicious Boatyard breakfast and learn things you never knew about some of the Bay's most important--and tasty--inhabitants. 

July 30

  • Norfolk, VA: Come on out for the 19th Annual Paddle for the Bay! Paddlers with kayaks to paddle boarders and all others in between, join in this Mid-Atlantic Paddlers Association certified competition to raise funds for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 

--Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Issues in this Post

Blue Crabs  



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