Blue Crab count in Chesapeake Bay drops slightly; restaurant prices increase

There are slightly fewer blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay when you compare this year to last, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Officials released the 2024 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey Wednesday, estimating that there are 317 million crabs in 2024, compared to 323 million last year. Still, they said the overall population is stable, adding that the total number of juvenile crabs is slightly up.

"The crab population is healthy. Go eat crabs," the DNR’s Lynn Fegley chuckled.

However, in many restaurants, prices have gone up.


Maryland to place crabbing restrictions on Chesapeake Bay blue crab catches

Maryland will place restrictions and limits on Chesapeake Bay blue crab catches following a worrisome survey that says the crustaceans are at their lowest levels in decades.

Bethesda Crab House General Manager Yen Lee told FOX 5 that it’s been difficult to find high-quality crabs so far this season and inflation concerns continue. As a result, he’s raised prices year-over-year by about $5 per dozen. 

Currently, a dozen large crabs are going for $144; a dozen mediums will run you $123.

"You want to get something good, you’re gonna have to pay the price," Lee said.

GRASONVILLE, MD - AUGUST 06: Customers have enjoyed decades of blue crabs and seafood at the popular Harris Crab House in Grasonville, Maryland on August 06, 2016. Weekend section' cover story and guide to Maryland crabs (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The W

Make no mistake, plenty of crab lovers are more than willing to do so. That includes Desi Farren, who was celebrating her birthday at Bethesda Crab House Wednesday night.

"I would save my money to have good crabs," Farren said, "and this is the best crabs around."

If you’d like to read the full Winter Dredge Survey, you can click here.