Articles

SEA LIFE FACTS

Blue Crabs

The blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) is a member of an order of crustaceans called Brachyura. Blue crabs are found in many places around the world, but this type of crab is native to countries on the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Blue crabs are known to consume molluscs, small fish, plants, and even other blue crabs. Since blue crabs are omnivores, their diet includes nearly anything they can get their claws on.

Blue Crabs are a famous cash crop of Maryland and Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. There are many methods for harvesting blue crabs. Recreational crabbers have a variety of options for crabbing, while commercial crabbers use a trap called a “crab pot.”

Commercial crabbers sort harvested crabs into groups of Jimmies (males), Sooks (mature females), and Sallies (immature females). It may be difficult to recognize blue crab gender differences to the untrained eye, but ask any fisherman or crabber and you’ll find out how easy it can be. The abdomen or “apron” of a blue crab tells us its sex. An apron that has a shape like the US Capital Building tells us that the crab is a mature female. If the apron looks like the Washington monument then we have a male crab. However, one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a male and female crab is to remember how female crab’s claws are like many human women’s fingernails, they’re painted red.

Sailfish

Related to swordfish and marlin, sailfish is a common name for a sport fish that belongs Istiophoridae family. Its full scientific name is Istophorus Platypterus, which describes its high and wide dorsal fin that resembles a sail. Sailfish have a lifespan of about 4 years, and reproduce all year round. Females can lay up to 50,000 eggs in just one year.

While a sailfish can max out at 10 feet in length, the average sailfish is about six feet long. The maximum weight for a sailfish tops out at around 220 pounds. Sailfish are the fastest marine predator on earth, they can reach a top speed of 68 miles per hour. Their long flexible, and powerful bodies helps them quickly circle and confuse schools of fish until some easily fall victim to the sailfish. Sailfish will eat fish, crustaceans, octopus, and squid; sardine and anchovies are the staples of a sailfish die.

Sea Turtles

When you think about sea turtles, I’m sure you have a very clear image of what a turtle looks like, but did you know that there are actually seven different sea turtle species? The sea turtle that you clearly pictured in your mind could very well be a cognitive mix of green, hawksbill, loggerhead, flatback, olive ridley or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

All seven species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridly and leatherback turtles are listed as critically endangered. Humans pose a number of threats to sea turtles. Many cultures around the world harvest sea turtles and their eggs for consumption; the shell and other turtle parts are also used to make decorative ornaments. Humans can also indirectly harm sea turtles by developing real estate on a beach where turtles annually migrate and nest.

A sea turtle’s life begins after hatching from an egg buried beneath sand. Young sea turtle hatchlings have many dangers to be weary of before they even make it to the sea. Newly hatched turtles face attacks from predators like fish, birds, and crabs. If a sea turtle survives, it will drift at sea until it grows to be approximately a foot long. At this point, the sea turtles will move closer to shore to feed.

Sea turtles are believed to have an 80-year lifespan; they reach sexual maturity around age 30. Sea turtles can be found all in every ocean in the world except for the Polar Regions. Male sea turtles spend their whole life at sea. Female sea turtles mate at sea only to return to migrate to a shore every year to nest. The sea turtle’s migration can be very intense, sometimes traveling thousands of miles to lay eggs on the shore.