Blue Crab Lifecycle

Explore the lifecycle of one of the Chesapeake Bay's most iconic residents, the blue crab.


Mating: Blue crabs mate in the brackish waters of the Bay from May to October.

Egg: Female crabs carrying eggs (sponge crabs) migrate south and spawn in saltier waters near the mouth of the Bay.

Zoea: Tiny blue crab larvae (zoea) molt and grow as currents take them into coastal waters.

Megalopa: In their second larval stage (megalopa), the crabs are pushed back into the Bay and seek shelter in grass beds and marshes.

Juvenile: At 2mm wide, juvenile crabs resemble their adult form, molting several times over 12 to 18 months before they reach maturity.

Adult: The cycle begins again as males (jimmies) carry their mates (sooks) for protection as the sook completes a final molt, and the pair mates.

The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Stay Up-to-Date on Bay News

Want to stay up-to-date on all news and happenings in your region and across the Chesapeake watershed? Join our digital community.

Sign Up
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close