WASHINGTON — Things are looking up for the blue crabs of Chesapeake Bay.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Monday released the numbers from its annual Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey — the results of dredging at 1,500 sites throughout the bay from December through March.
The department found that the total blue-crab population of the bay is about 411 million, about 38 percent above last year’s number, and the critical spawning-age female population was pegged at 101 million — much higher than last year’s total, though still well below the goal.
Juvenile crabs are up to 269 million, 35 percent over 2014’s number and more than double 2013’s record low.
The crabbing harvest remained at a safe level for the seventh straight year, DNR said in a statement.
About 19 percent of the adult crabs in the Bay died from the cold winter temperatures, DNR says. Other factors that affect the population include coastal currents, other weather patterns and natural predators.
“We are pleased that crab numbers increased despite the harsh winter temperatures,” DNR Secretary Mark Belton said in the statement.
“This is good news for the crabs and for Marylanders who enjoy them all summer long.”