There isn’t anything more Chesapeake than the Bay’s signature crustacean, the blue crab. Blue crab’s scientific name Callinectes (meaning beautiful swimmer) sapidus (meaning savory) pretty much gives away its importance to the region.
Why should YOU teach about blue crabs?
These feisty crustaceans make a great topic to study in your classroom because they are a keystone species in the Chesapeake Bay. Blue crabs serve as both a predator and prey in the Chesapeake food web.
They are prey for large fish, birds and even other blue crabs. Yet they are also the chief consumers of the benthos or bottom dwelling organisms like small fish, worms and plants.
Along with being a vital part of the ecosystem, blue crabs are the base of a large commercial and recreational fishery in Maryland and Virginia. It is estimated that more than one-third of the nation’s blue crab catch comes from the Chesapeake Bay, bringing in more than $50 million per year to the region.
So how do YOU teach about blue crabs?
There are already tons of teaching resources about blue crabs. You can use blue crabs to teach about predator/prey dynamics, food webs, habitats, migration, economics and the impacts of pollution on a species. To help you get started take a look through the resources below:
- Maryland Crab Harvests 1952 - 2007
- Blue Crab’s Chesapeake Journey Lesson - BRIDGE Network
- How a Blue Crab Changes as It Grows Lesson - Science NetLinks
- Blue Crabs in the Chesapeake Bay Activity - VIMS
- More Blue Crab Resources - Bay Backpack