It’s Blue Crab Season – Let’s Get Crackin’

FUN FACTS:

  • Female blue crabs mate only once during their lifetime.
  • The average lifespan of a blue crab is 3 years.
  • The scientific name, Callinectes sapidus, means “savory beautiful swimmer.”

Blue crabs are crustaceans with a hard upper shell, typically grey, blue, or brownish-green in color. The blue crab gets its name from its sapphire-tinted claws. Blue crabs have two large claws, six walking legs, and two paddle-like swimming legs. One thing that sets male and female crabs apart is that females have red tips on their claws. Another distinction between male and female blue crabs is the shape of the abdomen. A blue crab male’s abdomen has a long, narrow, inverted “T” shape while females have a broader, rounded “U” shaped abdomen.

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Blue crabs spend the majority of their lifetime in estuaries which often have accessible shorelines, making blue crabs a delicious challenge to catch. Blue crabs are not only sought after by commercial fishermen but recreational crabbing has become rather popular as well.

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Louisiana’s blue crab fishery is the largest in the United States accounting for more than half of the total amount harvested in the Gulf of Mexico each year. Blue crabs are prized for their sweet, tender meat and are one of the most popular forms of seafood in the United States.

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Blue crabs tend to feed on oysters, mussels, snails, plant and animal detritus, and even smaller or soft-shelled blue crabs. These creatures are very sensitive to environmental changes and populations will drastically decline if habitats are disturbed. The blue crab relies heavily on healthy wetlands for survival and the sustainability of their population. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act supports healthy estuaries that serve as habitat for species such as the blue crab.

 

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Louisiana’s Seafood Ecology

For centuries, Louisiana has had a prospering commercial seafood industry. The catching and selling of shrimp, crabs, oysters, alligator, fish, and crawfish have sustained the livelihood of many families.  As one of the country’s largest seafood suppliers, Louisiana contributes more than 850 million total pounds of high-quality seafood to restaurants and homes across the world each year.

Louisiana’s fisheries are an integral part of our economy through providing jobs, as well as income and tax revenue. One of every seventy jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry. As a whole, this leaves an economic impact of over $2.4 billion annually for the state of Louisiana. For many of the industrious fishermen who work Louisiana’s waters, their craft of bringing the finest seafood to the plates of people around the world has been passed down for many generations.

What makes Louisiana waters so plentiful? The abundance of seafood caught and served around the world all starts with our estuaries. An estuary is an ecosystem commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to a mixture of fresh and salt water caused by tidal flow. This changing mixture makes estuaries a fertile region for a variety of marine life. Along with estuaries providing an abundance of seafood, they also provide access to recreational activities and breeding and migratory locations and shelter for fish and wildlife.

Did You Know?

  • 75% of the United States commercial sea catch comes from estuaries.
  • 37% of estuary marshes in the United States are in Louisiana.
  • Louisiana is the largest commercial fishery in the United States.
  • Louisiana estuaries comprise the seventh largest estuary in the world.

You can help maintain healthy estuaries by keeping your estuary area clean of trash and robust for our seafood industries, wildlife, vegetation, and others to enjoy! Louisiana’s seafood industry promotes innovations that protect our coastline and help keep our waters clean. When you select Louisiana seafood, you are supporting the lifestyle and environment Louisiana natives have depended on for centuries. As they say about Louisiana seafood, “know better, eat better.”

World Water Day

Water, promoter of all life forms on Earth, is recognized today- World Water Day!  In Louisiana, 47% of the state’s population resides in the coastal zone, with a majority of livelihoods reliant on water. Industries such as aquaculture, agriculture, oil and gas, and tourism depend on the sustainability and quality of Louisiana’s waters.  This essential natural resource has a synergistic relationship with Louisiana’s wetlands, providing vital nourishment to fisheries, wildlife, and Louisiana’s coastal growth.  Wetlands improve water quality by trapping suspended solids and filtering other pollutants. Coastal marshes filter excess nitrogen and phosphorus, thus helping to prevent algal blooms and maintaining oxygen in the water for fish and shellfish. Wetlands can retain, remove, and transform nutrients that might otherwise contribute to declining water quality. Clean water is important for healthy fish, wildlife, and humans. Water is not only a commodity, but a contributor to life… appreciate it, preserve it, and protect it!

Water is the key to life, celebrate World Water Day!

Wetlands

 

 

 

Shoreline Protection

CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Shoreline Protection

Louisiana’s shorelines are eroding at a drastic pace, some at rates up to 50 feet per year. The fertile but fragile soils found in the wetlands are susceptible to wave energy. As land is lost, water bodies merge together, which can increase wave fetch and shoreline erosion. Behind these shorelines lie communities, highways, and infrastructure that are at risk of washing away.

Various techniques to defend the coastline have been tested and applied under CWPPRA. Rock revetments, oyster reefs, concrete panels, and other fabricated materials have been constructed along otherwise unstable shorelines to abate wave energy and reduce erosion. These structures are designed to break waves, and they often trap waterborne sediments behind the structures that, over time, can become new land.

Through the course of the CWPPRA program, advancements have been made in shoreline structures that have helped maintain natural processes while providing critical protection. Such advancements have included using lighter-weight materials that require less maintenance and can be constructed on organic sediments. Other advancements include low-relief structures that are designed to trap sediments and natural breakwaters such as reefs that can self-maintain and support other ecological functions. Other natural shoreline protection measures include vegetative plantings, whose roots help secure soils and can promote accretion. These projects are implemented with consideration for minimizing impacts to the surrounding environment. Although some shoreline structures may look foreign in a natural landscape, they are necessary features that physically protect communities and hold wetlands in place by mitigating the harsh forces that move to destroy them.

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BA-26 Barataria Bay Waterway East Side Shoreline Protection

 

LEEC 2017

The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana Environmental Education Association hosted the 20th Environmental Education State Symposium on February 3-4, 2017 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Baton Rouge, La. The theme of this year’s symposium was “protecting Louisiana’s endangered species.”

The Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC) provides environmental education news from across Louisiana, including information on environmental education programs, workshops, and grant opportunities.  The state symposium furnished opportunities for formal and non-formal environmental educators from Louisiana and surrounding states to meet and share teaching techniques as well as multiple concurrent sessions for various topics and grade levels. Keynote speaker Dr. Jessica Kastler, Coordinator of Program Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory’s Marine Education Center, used individual cases of endangered species to engage the audience in explorations of the process of science while cultivating environmental stewardship. In addition to the keynote speech, presenters in 15 concurrent sessions provided lesson demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and/or exemplary programs. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach Staff was among exhibitors with a multitude of materials to assist teachers of all grade levels in furthering their students’ knowledge in environmental education and coastal protection.

Estuaries

An estuary is an ecosystem comprised of both the biological and physical environment, commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture between freshwater draining from inland and salt water. One of the most expansive and productive estuaries in the world is located in the United States at the interface of the Mississippi River’s freshwater and the salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.

Estuaries have one of the highest productivity rates among ecosystems in the world; they provide an abundance of food and shelter as well as breeding and migration locations. Estuaries also provide great access for enjoyable recreational activities such as fishing. Continue your love for estuaries and contribute to their well-being by aiming to keep your estuary areas clean of trash and healthy environments for wildlife, vegetation, and others to enjoy!

Share the estuary love for Valentine’s Day! #iheartestuaries

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Wetland Habitat

More than one-third of threatened and endangered species in the United States live only in wetlands, and nearly half use wetlands at some point in their lives. Estuarine and marine fish, shellfish, various birds, and certain mammals must have coastal wetlands to survive.

CWPPRA has protected,  created, or restored approximately 95,954 acres of Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands in its first 25 years. Those restored swamps, marshes, and barrier islands/headlands and associated open-water habitats provide foraging, nesting, breeding, wintering, escape cover, and nursery habitat for a myriad of coastal fish and wildlife. Species that benefit include threatened, endangered, at-risk, and rare species, as well as commercially and recreationally valuable species and state and national fish and wildlife trust resources. Habitats restored through CWPPRA have aided in the delisting of our national symbol, the bald eagle, and the Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican, from the endangered species list.

Number of acres CWPPRA projects have benefited for fish and wildlife habitat:

  • 25,900 acres – fresh marsh/swamp
  • 21,700 acres – intermediate marsh
  • 19,000 acres – brackish/saline marsh
  • 6,200 acres – barrier islands/headlands
  • 15,700 acres – combined coastal habitats

 

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