Background – Habitat – AL Blue Crab


crab life cycleBlue crabs require a diverse range of habitats, as various life stages require different ecological nich­es. In general, males prefer lower salinity habitats, while females utilize hyposaline areas primarily to molt and mate. Females migrate offshore where the eggs hatch into free swimming pelagic larvae (zoe­ae). Larvae are distributed via currents and will molt several times before becoming a juvenile crab and settling in an estuary or bay (West et al. 2011).

The estuarine phase of the blue crab life cycle is possibly the most important (VanderKooy 2013). Vegetated habitats are nursery areas for crabs, as the submerged vegetation provides cover for juve­nile crabs to molt and grow with less risk of preda­tion (VanderKooy 2013). Juvenile and adult blue crabs have a wide range within an estuary, utilizing submerged vegetation, mud bottoms, oyster reefs and sandy bottom areas. Males usually remain with­in estuaries while females move offshore to spawn and hatch their eggs (VanderKooy 2013).




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