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Parasite a Cause of Blue Crab Troubles?

Researchers investigate to what extent a parasite is affecting juvenile Chesapeake Bay blue crab.

Blue crab. ©Chelsea Carter/VASG

Blue crab. ©Chelsea Carter/VASG

The declining harvest of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs reached record lows in recent years provoking researchers to investigate potential causes. Researchers will look into a lethal parasite, Hematodinium sp., as a possible cause. The parasite infects a substantial number of juvenile crabs inspected in two bayside nursery locations, with the high prevalence indicating that the pathogen probably exerts substantial negative pressure on these young crabs. Juvenile crabs may be more susceptible to the parasite for multiple reasons, including their high frequency of molting. Researchers will collect data from additional bayside nurseries within the Chesapeake Bay.

Project Details: Hamish Small, Kimberly Reece, Jeffrey Shields (VIMS). Expansion of preliminary prevalence data for a parasitic dinoflagellate (Hematodinium sp) infecting juvenile blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.