CrabHere are some facts about the blue crab that are interesting enough to know.

1. Crisfield, Maryland is known as ‘Crab Capitol of the World’.

Every year on Labor Day weekend the town hosts a huge celebration that includes a parade, a beauty pageant, cooking contests and even a crab race called, “The National Hard Crab Derby”. I wonder how they train those crabs to race?

2. Crabs are called a ‘Jimmie’, ‘Sook’, ‘Sally’, and ‘Sponge Crab.

“Jimmie, Sook, Sally, Sponge Crab” sounds confusing! Blue crab males are called ‘Jimmies’ and females are called “Sook, Sally, or Sponge Crab’ depending on their stage of sexual maturity.

3. How can you tell a male and a female apart?

Males have blue claws with a ‘T’ shape on their belly, also called apron, while females have orange colored tips on their claws.

4. What’s the difference between a ‘Sook’, ‘Sally’, and ‘Sponge Crab’?

Sexual maturity. A sexually mature blue crab is called a ‘Sook’ because she has already mated and given birth, her apron is easily opened. She carries a ‘U’ or bell shape on her apron. A ‘Sally’ is not sexually mature and carries an inverted ‘V’ shape on her apron; her apron is very hard to open. A ‘Sponge Crab’ is a female carrying eggs. She carries them in a sponge like growth beneath her on her apron.

5. Female blue crabs mate only once!

Even though the female crab mates only once, she may have ‘babies’ several times afterwards.

6. How many eggs does a female blue crab lay?

Anywhere from 600,000 to 8 million! It all depends on the size of the crab.

7. When is the mating season for the blue crab?

Blue crabs mate each year between May and October.

8. How long do female crabs carry the eggs?

Anywhere from two to nine months, it just depends on when mating took place.

9. Where do blue crabs live in the U.S.?

Blue crabs can be found all the way from Massachusetts to Texas! Crabs like a mixture of salt and freshwater environments that are found on the Eastern and Southern shores of the U.S.

10.  Did you know that blue crabs shed old shells to get new ones?

The process is called ‘molting’ and it takes two to three hours to shed the old shell. The female blue crab sheds her exoskeleton from twenty to twenty five times before becoming sexually mature. After she molts, she mates once and never molts or mates again. Males molt their entire life.

11. What’s the average lifespan of a blue crab?

Not long, only about three years.

12.  How long does it take for a blue crab to become sexually mature?

Not long, considering that it takes humans years! It takes only twelve to eighteen months for blue crab females.

13.  How does a blue crab swim?

Most people believed that blue crabs used all ten legs to swim, but they only use the fifth set of legs that rotate 20-40 evolutions per minute. It’s just hard to see when they are swimming because they can ‘dart’ out of sight rather quickly.

14.  How do blue crabs walk?

Just like swimming, they have special legs reserved for walking and it’s the third set used to maneuver when walking. Blue crabs walk in a sideways motion because that’s just the way their legs bend.

15.  Blue crabs belong to the family scientists call ‘Portunidae’.

Blue crabs are classified as belonging to this family because they are swimmers.

16.  Blue crabs are crustaceans.

Crustaceans have three distinct body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Blue crabs are related to shrimp, lobster, crayfish and even barnacles.

17. What do blue crabs eat?

Blue crabs, like many crabs, are considered to be scavengers and will eat anything they can eat. They also eat seaweed, sea lettuce and other decayed vegetation, snails, other crabs, fish, marine worms, shellfish beds, mussels and anything else that’ll fit in their mouths, dead or alive. Scientists believe that 25% of a blue crabs diet consists of blue crabs. Oh the cannibalism!

18.  Blue crabs have teeth in their stomach!

Sounds gross but that’s where they ‘chew’ what they eat. People have teeth in their mouths to chew food that travels through the digestive track.

19.  How do you know when blue crab is ready to eat?

If they measure between 4-6 inches, they’re ready for the boiling pot!

20.  How do people cook blue crabs?

Boiled is the most common method.

Around here most people soak their blue crabs in a solution of vinegar and water, a cup of each for every dozen for about twenty minutes. Then when the pot is boiling hot they drain them, sprinkle on their favorite seasoning and with tongs, and drop the blue crab into the pot. Twenty minutes later, everyone is eating!