Crab Found Held Hostage by Two Oysters in Chesapeake Bay

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Photo via Chesapeake Bay Foundation

As regionally threatened species, Maryland blue crabs and oysters in the Chesapeake Bay know they need to stick together. That might explain what happened here.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Friday shared evidence of a unique living situation for a blue crab on Tangier Island, Va., located about a dozen miles across the water from Maryland’s Smith Island and seafood capital of Crisfield. Evidently, Tangier Island Mayor James Eskridge, a full-time waterman, found the sizable crustacean blinded by two six-month-old oysters that had made a home on its face.

The folks at the foundation noticed the opportunity for a culinary collaboration between the two creatures, labeling the situation “a Chesapeake Bay ‘Turducken’ of sorts.”

Baby oysters, or spat, need to something to latch onto for a home in order to mature. Here in Baltimore, the Waterfront Partnership has installed hundreds of cages around the harbor as habitats for the threatened bivalves, whose bay populations have declined due to over-harvesting, habitat loss and disease. The benefit is mutual: they get a place to live, and we get natural, living water filters for our dirty bay and harbor.

Crabs have faced similar threats to their numbers in the bay, though state officials have reported some population resurgence for the last couple years.

Were it not a potentially terrible inconvenience for the host crab, we humans might try out this additional approach of letting baby oysters camp out on their crustacean peers.

Ethan McLeod
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