Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blue Crabs and the Possible Reasons Populations are Declining

The blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, population is declining because of different pathogens such as viruses and bacteria which are limiting their metabolic processes.

Tests have been formulated to be run using NMR spectroscopy to test the effects of different bacteria and chemicals on the ability of crabs to take up oxygen. These bacteria and specific chemicals were injected into the crabs in order to determine what the effect(s) would be.

Based on these experiments, it was determined that these bacteria and chemicals have an effect on the oxygen uptake of the blue crabs. The NMR tests are useful because some of these pathogens have subtle effects and are not easily detected by normal anylsis procedures. The NMR spectroscopy helps to be able to more easily detect these metabolic effects.

Photo courtesy of the Science Daily website.

The website that I used to obtain this information is listed below as well as the site for the full report that it was adapted from.


  1. It would be interesting to know if the same pathogens are harming other species of crabs or, if these harmful agents are specific to the blue crab.

  2. I wonder if these pathogens are on the rise with deteriorating environmental conditions? Unfortunately, several types of animals (bats, frogs, corals) are being hit hard by microbial pathogens.

  3. I'm curious as to how the decline in the population of blue crabs is affecting the local ecosystem. I would assume that this positively affects the trophic level below them and negatively affects the trophic level above them.