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Barnegat Bay is home to several species of crabs, but the Blue crab is the most common and most sought after.




Blue Crab




Fiddler Crabs



 Blue Crab                     Callinectes sapidus

Of the wide variety of marine animals on the Atlantic Coast, none is more well-known by people, young and old, then the blue crab. The crab's abundance, beautiful coloration, pugnacious temperament and delicious flavor make it a favorite of recreational crabbers in New Jersey.

Translating the scientific name, the genus Callinectes is Greek.  calli="beautiful", nectes="swimmer"

  The species name, sapidus is Latin for "savory"

As far as beautiful is concerned, it is in the eye of the beholder, but they are excellent swimmers. Savory (pleasing to the sense of taste), you bet, they are delicious.

Blue crabs are opportunistic bottom-dwelling predators and will feed on a variety of live and dead fish, clams, snails, eelgrass, sea lettuce, and decayed vegetation.

Adult blue crabs generally feed on clams, mussels, SAV, fish, oysters and anything else they can successfully capture or scavenge.

They will even eat other blue crabs that are small or still soft from a recent molt.

Blue crabs can be found throughout Barnegat Bay, its tributary rivers, streams, creeks, lagoons and tidal wetlands.  They prefer shallower brackish water but will venture almost anywhere there is food and shelter.

Fun Fact - Blue crabs go by many names, but some of the most popular are "jimmy" for a male, "sook" for an adult female and "sally" or "she-crab" for an immature female. 

Click on any image to enlarge


A male blue crabs (both adult and immature) is called a jimmy.

The tips of the claws are bluish in color and on the underside, the apron  or abdomen is shaped like an inverted letter "T".  It is sometimes described as being in the shape of the Washington Monument.

Males grow larger than the females and according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, a new state record blue crab was caught off Brick, Ocean County on May 21. 2006 that measured 8 1/2 inches and ties the current state record caught off Manahawkin in 1995.    <click to see image>

Fun Fact - After about 12 to 18 months, a juvenile (immature) crab reaches maturity.

Female blue crabs differ from male crabs in that the tips of their claws are reddish orange in color as seen in the images below. 

The shape of the abdomen is another way to identify individuals.

Sally (she-crab)

An immature blue crab that has not yet mated is called a sally or she-crab. 

The apron is in the shape of a triangle.


After mating has completed the female is now mature and is called a sook.

The apron is  "dome" shaped.

 Click on any image to enlarge

Crabbing is done commercially and as a recreational pastime.