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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Decline of the Blue Crab

Changing weather patterns and a suffocating parasite may have reduced the numbers of this species along the Eastern seaboard

Richard Lee, Marc Frischer

Life cycle of HematodiniumClick to Enlarge Image

The blue crab, which is harvested by the millions every year, supports an important fishery along the Eastern and Gulf coasts of the United States. However, a recent crash in the blue crab population has devastated the commercial crab industry. The cause of this dramatic crash is now the subject of an intense investigation by ecologists and fishery scientists. There are hints that weather–related changes may be responsible. There is also evidence that a parasitic disease in blue crabs has become both more prevalent and more severe. Marine biologists Richard Lee and Marc Frischer have been studying these events along the coast of southeastern Georgia, a region that has been especially hard hit, to see whether the two phenomena might be related.


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