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The Life Cycle of the Blue Crab

The Life Cycle of the Blue Crab

The blue crab can thrive its entire life within the Chesapeake Bay.

Callinectes sapidus, literally meaning beautiful swimmer, is the scientific name for that Maryland delicacy, the blue crab. One of the most iconic animals associated with Maryland, the blue crab is both a treasured symbol and a favorite food item. Blue crabs can be found in waters along Nova Scotia to Argentina, but they are most associated with the Chesapeake Bay. This is because they can spend their entire life cycle there.

Mating And Early Life Cycle

Female blue crabs prefer the saltier water down by the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, where the bay meets the ocean. They travel north to mate, since males prefer the fresher water, and the two meet in the brackish middle. Mating takes place from May to October and takes several days. Once a pair has mated, the female returns to the southern waters. The “sponge” or external egg mass on the female can have between 750,000 and 2 million eggs. Over the course of about two weeks, the developing larvae consume the egg yolk before they are released out into the salty water. 

Zoea Stage

Blue crab larvae are called zoea, and once the mother crab releases them, they are carried by currents out into the ocean. Here, they molt several times as they grow, carried around on the ocean currents. By the time they reach the next cycle in their development, thousands of the zoea released have been eaten by other creatures or have found their way to other estuaries. Not all of them return to the place where their mother dwelt.

Megalops Stage

The post-larval form of the blue crab is called the megalop. The metamorphosis into this stage happens during their final molt in the larvae stage. At this point, they crawl along the bottom of the bay northward towards fresher water. In that area, they live as megalops until eventually metamorphosing into immature crabs.


Immature crabs look just like adult crabs, but smaller. As they grow, they will continually molt and regrow their shell to accommodate their changing size. The full transformation from hatching to maturity takes between 12 and 18 months, and the average lifespan of a crab is about 3 years. There are lots of threats to the population and predators along the way, not the least being people who love to eat them. Once they are mature, male crabs tend to stay in the northern waters, and female crabs move down to the southern waters until it is time to meet in the middle and mate. 

Order Your Delicious Crab Creation from Eastern Shore Crab Cakes Today!

With a lifetime of history alongside the Chesapeake Bay, Chef Michael Matassa proudly creates Eastern Shore Crab Cakes for you and your family to enjoy. From warming crab soups to our classic crab cakes, there is something delicious for everyone at Eastern Shore Crab Cakes this year. Order your delicious crab meat products online, and visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedInfor more updates on your favorite Maryland crab dishes! We don’t cook, we create! Get your delicious crab cakes from Eastern Shore Crab Cakes today!

This entry was posted on Friday, September 6th, 2019 at 4:31 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.