NYSDEC Blue Crab Tagging Program - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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NYSDEC Blue Crab Tagging Program

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170 mm tagged mature female blue crab
170 mm mature female blue crab tagged in the Great South Bay


The blue crab tagging program was initiated to investigate the migration patterns, habitat preferences, and life history traits of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) in New York's waters. Mature female blue crabs which are captured in various NYSDEC field surveys are tagged with a yellow wire carapace tag which has a specific number attributed to each crab. This tag is attached externally to the crabs' two lateral spines.

How You Can Help

If you happen to capture a tagged crab, you can contribute information to the tagging program by answering a few quick questions about your catch. Visit the Blue Crab Report a Tag Form to report a tag.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Won't the crabs lose the tags when they molt?

A: We are only tagging mature female blue crabs captured in the NY marine and coastal district. Immature female blue crabs molt frequently throughout their life, but once they reach maturity they stop molting. By only tagging mature females, we are ensuring that we are only tagging crabs that will not molt.

Q: What information do I need to report a tag?

A: The most important information to collect when you capture a tagged crab includes; the 5-digit tag number found on the left side of the tag, the specific location of where you captured the tagged crab, and the date of when you captured the tagged crab. If you have an internet connected smart phone or tablet you can easily report a tag at your location by visiting the Blue Crab Report a Tag Form webpage.

Q: What should I do with the crab after I report it?

A: Once you have reported the above information to the "Report a Tag" form or have called the phone number on the tag, you can either (1) release the crab with the tag still attached at the same location where it was captured, or (2) remove the tag and harvest the crab as you usually would.

Q: What do I get for reporting a tag?

A: Once you have reported all the necessary information, we will email you a map showing the location where the crab was initially tagged, all recapture locations, as well as the time at large between tag and recapture.

Q: How many eggs can a mature female blue crab produce?

A: Egg production is variable, but depending on the size of the female, she can produce between 700,000 to 6 million eggs per brood. And depending on environmental conditions (e.g. water temperature, food accessibility, etc.), she can produce between two to six broods of eggs in her lifetime. That's 1.4 to 36 million eggs from one mature female crab during her lifetime. These eggs and larvae are heavily preyed upon by fishes, planktivores, ctenophores and jellyfishes. Only a small percentage of her eggs will survive to become adult crabs.

For more information and questions about the Blue Crab Tagging Program

Questions about the Blue Crab Tagging Program can be directed to the DEC at (631) 444-0429.