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Where do Maryland crabs come from? Researchers use a virus, ocean current maps and more to find out.

Where do Maryland crabs come from? Researchers use a virus, ocean current maps and more to find out.

A common joke between politicians from Maryland and Virginia holds that all Maryland blue crabs actually come from Virginia, where saltier waters are hospitable to egg-bearing females. The retort: As soon as they can, they move to Maryland.

But what if some Chesapeake Bay crabs actually come from Delaware or North Carolina?

Scientists are using a crab virus — akin to the common cold — as well as computer models of ocean currents and genetic analysis of crustaceans from Massachusetts to Argentina to figure out just how much different populations of swimming crabs have in common.

They’re even using acoustic monitoring to track crab movements within and between estuaries in...

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