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Blue crab research may help Chesapeake Bay watermen improve soft shell harvest
Date:1/24/2011

rapidly quantify prevalence of the blue crab reo-like virus in captive and wild crabs," said UMCES@IMET scientist Dr. Eric Schott. "The research shows that the virus was present in more than half of the dead or dying soft shell crabs we examined, but in fewer than five percent of healthy crabs."

"This new information opens the door to identifying the exact practices that help crab diseases spread," adds Schott. "That knowledge will allow us to work with watermen to develop new ways to prevent the spread of the virus, allowing them to bring more soft shells to market."

"Crab for crab, each soft shell crab we can get to market significantly increases our bottom line," said Lee Carrion of Coveside Crabs in Dundalk, Maryland. "With soft shells selling for five times the price of a hard shells, we have the potential to improve our profitability without increasing our total catch."

Throughout their research, scientists worked with watermen from Coveside Crabs to gather and collect samples for the study. Thanks to funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the team plans to continue the project this summer in an effort to proactively identify crabs carrying the virus, which poses no threat to humans, before they are brought into the soft shell production facility.


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Contact: Christopher Conner
cconner@umces.edu
443-496-0095
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Source:Eurekalert

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