Dr. Andy Gannon, of Birmingham-Southern College, is conducting a research project in the Apalachicola Bay to study how changing salinity patterns in the Apalachicola Estuary are affecting Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) populations, including their migration patterns, recruitment, parasite load, survival and reproduction.
Apalachicola Riverkeeper is providing some initial coordination and episodic boat support. This study may link with the restoration of the East River distributary. We believe East River restoration could decrease salinity in the upper bay for a longer period of the year, thereby improving conditions for the blue crabs to lose the parasites they are carrying in from the Gulf and higher salinity areas of the estuary. We are happy to provide Dr. Gannon support for his work that help us better understand how the Delta and Upper Bay function and sustain the blue crab populations.
According to Dr. Gannon, crab sampling surveys have occurred each month from the early summer of 2017 and will continue through the winter of 2018 and include a combination of commercially harvested crabs and crabs from other sampling at strategic locations by the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and Florida Marine Research Institute. Historic data from sampling of crab populations over the last 15 years is also being used.”
We’ll update you as the research continues.