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Virginia Marine Resources Commission

Counting crabs in the Chesapeake

Counting crabs in the Chesapeake

— A mesh net tips onto the stern of the work boat "Mydra Ann," and out tumbles a community of crabs: fist-size blues with claws raised in attack mode, tan adolescents trying to scuttle for cover and translucent babies no bigger than a thumbnail.

Picking through the pile, state biologists conduct their census, measuring and weighing each Chesapeake Bay resident before returning it to the ice-cold water and several more weeks of hibernation.

"There's a lot of little crabs out there. I feel good about that," says Roger Morris, a waterman for more than 30 years who helps the Department of Natural Resources conduct its annual winter dredge...