Blue Crab

Blue crab

Callinectes sapidus


  • Distinguishing characteristics:  Blue crabs have greenish color with blue highlights.  They have strong claws and their back appendages are adapted for swimming.  They have three pairs of walking legs.  Males (jimmies) have a pointed apron that resembles the Washington monument while females’ (sooks) aprons are broader and resemble the Capital building.


In the Wild

  • Habitat:  The blue crab is a bottom dweller that lives in all parts of the Bay at various life stages.
  • Diet:  Blue crabs are very much opportunistic feeders meaning they will eat what they find including clams, oysters, dead fish, bristle worms, detritus and even other blue crabs.
  • Predators:  Blue crab predators include croakers, birds such as herons, striped bass, turtles and humans.
  • Size:  Blue crabs can get up to 9 inches long from point-to-point.
  • Breeding:  Blue crabs mate in the middle Bay from May-October.  Females molt before mating and as a result the male will cradle the female after mating until her shell hardens.
  • Life Span:  Blue crabs do not typically live longer than three years.



In the Aquatics Lab

  • Diet:  We feed the crabs pieces of squid.
  • Size:  The blue crabs here at Booker T. Washington range in size from about a 1.5 inches across to about 6 inches across.
  • Quantity:  Booker T is home to 8 blue crabs.



Other information

  • Virginia Regulations:  Blue crabs must be 5 inches across to be kept by a recreational crabber.
  • Commercial Uses:  Blue crabs are caught and sold as food.

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