"You've got an overabundance of rockfish, an overabundance of puppy drum, and an overabundance of cownose rays, which all eat crabs," Dize said. "We probably had as many small crabs last year in July and August as we've ever seen, but they never materialized. We think they got eaten up."
Whatever got them, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's senior fisheries scientist, Bill Goldsborough, suggested that another factor in the demise of so many juvenile crabs was "degraded habitat." Earlier this week, scientists reported a 21 percent decline last year in the bay's underwater grasses, which provide vital shelter for growing young crabs, especially when they shed their old shells to form a new, larger one.