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Fun Facts About Blue Crabs

Friday, July 15, 2016 - 12:00am

Did you know that blue crabs consistently rank at the top of North Carolina’s commercial fisheries, both in pounds sold at the dock and in the value of the landings? Here’s some other fun facts about this important species:

  • A mature male crab is called a “jimmy” and is easily recognized by the brilliant blue shading on his shell and claws.
  • Adult female crabs are called “sooks” and are distinguished by the rounded aprons on their underside and red tips on their claws – just like a woman would paint her fingernails.
  • Blue crabs are crustaceans, which means they have three distinct body parts: the head, the thorax and the abdomen.
  • They are found in all North Carolina coastal waters, but the largest populations live in the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.
  • One popular way to catch blue crabs is by chicken necking. This involves tying a string to a raw chicken neck, dropping it off the dock or side of the boat or even just from the shore while holding the other end. When the line pulls tight, you’ve got a crab nibbling on the chicken, so slowly pull the line back up to catch the crab with a dip net.
  • In order to grow, a blue crab must shed its shell and form a new one. As crabs shed, they emerge from their old shells with a very thin, soft shell which hardens after several days. Catch them during this process (mostly warm water months) and you’ve got soft shell crabs.
  • If a crab loses a leg or claw, it can grow a new one. Blue crabs can also voluntarily throw off limbs in order to escape, if caught. The leg is regenerated the next time it sheds.
  • Female blue crabs can spawn several times in their lifetime and release up to two million eggs at a time.