Megalops #1 - The 2020 Season Review

Started by BlueChip, April 26, 2021, 01:25:59 PM

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Megalops #1 – The Search for Megalops
"You Don't Need to Be A Scientist To Report"
The 2020 Blue Crab Season
View All Megalops Reports on the Blue Crab Forum™,
Northeast Crabbing Resources Thread
April 20, 2021
The Sound School, New Haven, Connecticut

•   Crabs Waking Up – Water Temperatures Minimize Winter Kill
•   A Long Cool Spring Delayed Season Which Improved In The Warmer Fall
•   A Much Improved Blue Crab Season- Fall Water Temps Stay Warm
•   The Positive and Negative NAO – The Recent Fall of Starfish – sign of a cycle?
•   Should We Revisit John Walston's Blue Crab Graveyard?
•   Two Sheds and Two Megalops Sets – Excellent Late Summer Crabbing
•   Tom's Creek – Early Blue Crab Years
•   1958 – New England's Blue Crab Minimum – Decline of Blue Crabs after 1920 in Connecticut
•   The Blue Crab Wintering – Habitat Chemistry of Iron and Sulfur Composts

Crabs Waking Up – No Sea Ice
We had a winter where the shallow water temperature did not fall to 28oF, a temperature at which sea ice or slush can form.  This is a good sign for overwintering.  I have had reports of gulls predating on crabs in the Waterford area – cool clear waters allow this to happen.  By early April, Long Island Sound temperatures were in the mid-forties.  April 19th I obtained the first reports of very small blue crabs entering eel traps in the New Haven area.  With just a few days to go to season opening, it looks like most of the crabs survived although we had a winter of gales, most were the Hudson River lows drawing up warmer southerly winds.  This moderated seawater temperatures. 
We should know in a few weeks if the July-August megalops set (western Long Island Sound) and the August-September set in the Connecticut River region survived the winter.  If so, we will have two megalops sets in one year, the first time since 2011.
See you at the docks and have a great blue crab season.  Thank you for reports and comments.
Blue Chip (Tim Visel) -

A long cool spring has delayed our blue crab season 2020 but did not seem to have an impact as the summer progressed.   Late summer catch improved and surpassed those of the previous year.  Some catches of 10 to 15 crabs per hour late in the season were common last fall.  Much thanks to Jaylene Disla who took temperatures at The Sound School dock all summer and Steve Joseph who tracked temperatures at Branford.
Some fall temperatures included
   July 27, 2020   Thimble Island    77o f
August 23rd    Thimble Island    73o f   
   Sept 8th    Branford Beach    76 o f
   Sept 12th   Deep River Landing    74o f
   Sept 12th     Essex Town Dock    76 o f
   Sept 18th   Essex Town Dock    71 o f

Temperature record for Sound School Dock conducted by Jaylene Disla

   October 12, 2020   62o f
   Sept 20th      61o f
   Sept 7th      71o f
   Aug 12th       84o f
   August 1st       79o f
   July 23rd       81o f
   July 11th       78o f
   May 30th       62o f
   May 23rd       60o f
   May 15th       61o f

Thank you Jaylene for your reports!

The fall temperatures provided an opportunity for blue crabs to shed and some larger sizes were reported this summer.  I went crabbing with some friends and caught some of the largest blue crabs since 2010.  COVID, of course, put restrictions on many crabbing events and everyone looks to a better season in 2021. 

See you at the docks.

Blue Chip -

A Much Improved Blue Crab Season – fall water temps stay warm into late fall –
Phil Brencher senior technology teacher here at Sound School wrote on July 27th "I went crabbing in Jarvis Creek with a dip net the other day.  I've never seen so many crabs in my life.  The bottom was literally crawling with them and they were even buried in the mud"  Reports along the coast had similar observations.  Small blue crabs were every where after the first of July.

I was just finishing Megalops #3 in 2020 and a series of very hot days – with temps well into the 90s, pushed up the water temperatures close to 2011-2012 levels. These hot days soon erased the cool spring water temperatures- matched and then exceeded the water temperatures of last year. The end of July was met by reports of very small crabs at the mouths of rivers including the Mianus River in Greenwich. Here the report could be considered "too numerous to count", an old phrase in the fisheries literature. There were thousands of small crabs, and similar reports for the Buzzards Bay Wareham River and Thames River which last season the Norwich area was a great spot to crab.  Steve Joseph a senior aquaculture science teacher here at The Sound School continued his temperature monitoring for the tenth year,

Steve Joseph Temp reports 2019-2020 -

Surface Water Temperature
4/9/19 – 7:30am – 44oF
4/10/19 -7:45am – 44oF
4/11/19 - 12:45pm – 47oF
4/22/19-7:40pm – 51oF
4/23/19-7:40pm – 50oF
4/24/19-7:37am – 54oF
4/25/19 -743am - 50oF
4/26/19 -7:30am – 52oF
4/29/19 - 9:15am – 50oF
5/1/19-7:50am – 51oF
5/2/19 -7:40am – 52oF
5/5/19 -7:44am - 53oF
5/14/19 -7:30am – 52oF
5/16/19 -7:45am -54oF
5/23/19 -7:45am - 60oF
6/4/19 -4:40pm - NBC 64oF
6/7/19 -7:45am – 65oF
6/12/19 -8:00am – 66oF
6/17/19 -7:30am – 68oF
12/30/19 -39oF
1/1/20 - 38oF
1/20/20 – 36oF   (Temperature minimum)
1/31/20 – 38oF
3/2/20 - 40oF
3/13/20 - 44oF
3/29/20 - 44oF
4/14/20 - 47oF
4/20/20 - 49oF
4/22/20 - 47oF
4/23/20 - 46oF
4/30/20 - 50oF
5/16/20 - 56oF
5/17/20 - 56oF
5/18/20 - 58oF
5/25/20 - 59oF
6/3/20 - 62oF
6/14/20 - 67oF
6/29/20 - 71oF
7/6/20 - 76oF
7/25/20 – 78oF
8/13/20 - 79oF   (Temperature maximum)
8/20/20 - 74oF
8/21/20 - 74oF New Haven
8/25/20 - 76oF Branford
8/31/20 - 72oF Indian neck
9/1/20 – 75oF
9/27- 65oF New Haven
10/28 - 60oF Branford
11/10 - 60oF Branford 3pm
12/19/20 – 39oF
12/30 - 34oF Essex town dock
12/31 – 38oF Branford
01/03/2021 – 39oF Branford town dock – Begin new recording year – Steve Joseph, Branford, CT
1/9/21 – 38oF
1/16/21 – 38oF
1/29/21 – 30oF (Winter minimum)
1/30/21 - 30oF
3/9/21 – 38oF
4/3/21 – 46oF Branford

By August 15, a massive shed was underway; empty shells could be seen at the Oyster River, Branford River and Indian Rivers. Blue crabs arrived around August 15 at the Essex Town Dock and observed shed shells there on August 23rd. As the shed progressed, the ratio of rusty crabs to white belly's changed rapidly. Last season (2019) a white belly crab was somewhat scarce, largely replaced by the "rusty" extremely hard-shell crabs and mostly males. The only female crabs observed this season were in Clinton Harbor. Yellow face crabs which dominated the catches in 2012, now thought to be from a chemical sulfur stain are very rare this season. In my observations, I have seen just two yellow face crabs- most are large rusty crabs or brilliant new shell white belly crabs with brilliant blue claws. The difference between the rusty crabs (which are packed with meat) and newly shed shells is easy to see. When cooked, I have found rusty crabs to have a perfect new shell formed beneath the existing one except they have not shed; its looks like perhaps for three or more years. That is not what I was observing this season, blue crabs were shedding by the thousands, empty shells are frequent along the shores of popular blue crab spots, and so the increase of white belly crabs is a natural result of shedding, but the decline in yellow face crabs has been the most obvious.  In 2012, the Wind Check Magazine and UCONN Seagrant Wracklines Spring/Summer 2011 Issue posted Steve Joseph's photograph of a yellow faced crab on its front cover.  These crabs all have a brilliant to dull yellow area surrounding the mouth area.  For the most part this year yellow face crabs have been replaced by white belly crabs at least it appears that way no matter what the past three weeks since about August 20th a surge in newly shed blue crabs have appeared in central Connecticut- this has preceded catch rates up to five to 10 crabs per hour (using 4 lines) in catches of 20 to 40 crabs per trip (not uncommon). 

In September, another megalops set was reported in central Connecticut.  I observed the set as small blue crabs on mud flats on Sept 26 in Essex.  It's turned out to be a much better blue crab season- thank you for all the reports.  Every report is helpful as we find out more about the blue crab in Connecticut.

•   The Positive And Negative NAO
Just before the pronounced cooling of the 1920s, the energy level of storms was higher the amount of tropical systems increased nine storms hit our country in 1916.  In 1916 also saw great white shark attacks and New Jersey killing swimmers as some commercial shore interests were reported (New Jersey) to have downplayed to swimmers the dangers to prevent economic loss. This great white shark episode is said to provide much of the background storyboard material for the 1973 movie titled "Jaws" a title of a newspaper then was as such.  "Huge Shark of the Man-Eating Species Caught at Belfort New Jersey" (July 15, 1916 – The Philadelphia Inquirer).

But what the great white shark saw was warm water at its height they searched the shallows for forage food in the same habitats that found swimmers trying to cool off with the resulting tragedy the loss of life. This is when tropical storms hit our coasts and seemed to be stronger and damaging then in the immediate past.  Hotels and casinos built once upon the tranquil high tide line of the 1890's now saw these areas in motion, violent and destructive to shore buildings and docks.  The 1880 to 1920 period of great heat was ending and with it some of the species that benefited from the heat, striped bass the blue crab and oyster. 

The period between 1915 and 1925 was the transition between the heat waves of summer to now the bitter cold waves of winter.  The early 1920's winters were a shock to fishery managers as the warm water species declined such as the blue crab (See Appendix #5) as species that needed energy and cold water now thrived such as the bay scallop, lobsters also recovered especially in its southern range Long Island Sound.  Cooler water with strong storms tended to scour out marine composts and leave clean cobblestones.  Kelp soon repopulated these subtidal high energy cobblestone fields producing significant increases in areas for the lobster megalops (better habitat). This in turn increased the number of shorts (lobsters) in the 1910's in Long Island Sound. Lobster Fishers experienced the increase of lobster shorts and praised the Noank Lobster Hatchery at the time.  Cooler water also saw the starfish increase helped undoubtedly by increased oyster culture food in the 1900's- starfish was a rare novelty of the shore preferring to consume cool water mussels but now concentrated in or near commercial oyster beds, as mussels during the 1880's to 1920's had largely retreated north into the cooler maritimes water.  Mussel sets happen in cooler waters here as oyster sets increased as waters warmed mussels declined. In an early cycle this reversed sets of mussels increased as oyster sets declined this reversal of habitat clocks can be seen in the fishery history records - mussels became more of a pest then fouling which could cover oyster beds killing the oysters below in the cooler 1950's and 1960's.

A cooler Long Island Sound in the late 1950's had intense blue mussel sets – they thrive in cooler water.  Mussel sets were so heavy they threatened to suffocate commercial oyster culture.  Dredged oysters at this time where recorded as having over 300 live mussels in a bushel.  In March 1961 in Commercial Fisheries Review Clyde L. Mackenzie Jr writes in article titled "A Practical Chemical Method for Killing Mussels and This Oysters Competitors."  These immense sets of mussels now supported a large population of starfish.  Large starfish populations at time overran cultured oyster beds in New Haven Harbor.  The increase of starfish caused some oyster culture beds to be completely abandoned.

As the mussels increased so did the starfish and oyster growers soon faced a double edge sword declining oyster sets from the cold and increases in mussel and starfish sets. At the height of the negative NAO cooler water had helped produce a huge population of starfish that now moved by the tide involves holding on to each other to form a ball that rolled as described by George McNeil to Tim Visel in the 1980s from one oyster bed to another.  The increase of starfish were to giant green fields infested by locusts, sheer numbers seemed to overwhelm anything oyster growers could do. In 1958 the Department of The Interior Information Service issued a press release titled "Starfish Population Increases Tenfold to Threaten Long Island Oyster Industry."  This is the time that the oyster industry rigged up "star boats" to mop them off oyster beds (See Appendix #1), using cloth and mill yarns to tangle starfish.

But that changed in 2018—in an article titled, "Thousands of Starfish Have Washed Up Dead After The "Beast From The East"- Here's why (sent to me by Steve Joseph, Senior Aquaculture teacher here at The Sound School). The conversation March 5, 2018 describes the low tide strandings of millions of starfish, but also in print what George McNeil had feared the most - balls of starfish- which could  have assisted the standings of washing (easily) of balls onto the beaches to be frozen by polar winds . (Note this storm's nickname, (a blizzard) "The Beast from the East."  It was colder in the 1960's and starfish thrown up on beaches were subject to freezing.
March 6, 2018 "Thousands of starfish have washed up dead after the Beast from The East here's why" by Coleen Suckling – The Conversation –
"Starfish maybe at particular risk of strandings after storms because of a behavior known as "starballing" by curling each of their multiple arms to created a large spherical bottom shape with their body, they can essentially roll over the seabed in fast moving water and cover much greater distances.  But during a storm they could be rolled out of control and left stranded on the beach."
"Mass starfish strandings aren't completely unheard of.  For example, several million were found on the coast of Worcester County, Maryland USA in 1960.  Up to 10,000 were found along the strandline (Wrackline, T. Visel) on the Isle of Man in the British Isles in 1999.  And 50,000 were stranded on the Irish coastline in 2009."
In the heat waves of the 1890's, starfish had become scarce, only to flourish in the 1960's only with the return of heat post 1972 to become scarce once again.  When Dr. Clyde Mackenzie visited The Sound School in 2005, one of the first questions he asked me was about the decline of starfish as in 1990's starfish populations had collapsed during the same time as lobsters.  The 1890's and 1990's were a century apart – See Marine Fisheries Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, "A Decline in Starfish, Asterias forbesi, Abundance and Concurrent Increase in the Northeastern Quahog, Mercenaria, Abundance and Landings in the Northeastern United States," Authors Clyde C. Jr Mackenzie and Robert Pikanowski, 1999.  In 2000, Dr. Mackenzie termed the starfish decline in Connecticut waters as a dieoff.  In the 1950's when press releases mentioned a surge of starfish, the NAO was in a negative phase – cooler and strong storms.  In the starfish dieoff (1998 to 2001), the NAO was largely in a positive warmer phase.  When you compare the March 27, 1958 press release (See Appendix #4) and a surge of starfish to the dieoff in 1996 to 1999, it follows the NAO pattern for the lobster (See Appendix #1)

•   Should We Visit John Walston's Blue Crab Graveyard?
Every fall usually around the middle of November, while lobstering, my bother Raymond and I would catch several large male blue crabs in our wood lobster pots. They were a welcome surprise while we wondered how and why these large blue crabs were in 20 to 30 feet of water far from the creeks and rivers of summer.  But in 1973 we caught dozens, I even became so interested in them that I diagramed a triangle wood trap, with two front in line funnels to catch them (See FIT Letter, Appendix # 2, April 15, 1974). The triangle design- it would catch on all sides but was not approved in 1975. The early 1970s I watched John Walston check sort winter flounder on an eastern rig trawler (eastern rigs had the schooner/sloop pilot house in the stern).  Lobster "hard bait" were sand dabs, sea robins, and skates to be salted for spring lobstering. Almost every visit I would see large male blue crabs on deck, and one day I asked about them. They were caught in a Wilcox flat net, a net designed primarily for winter flounder, and the tows between Kimberly Reef and Faulkner's Island that Mr. Walston described as "Connecticut's Blue Crab Graveyard."  Last summer I obtained reports that blue crabs were once again in deep water by Faulkner's Island but this time hauled up in conch pots.  Blue crabs again were reported in this area.

Reports of blue crabs in deep waters in the same areas mentioned by John Walston of the 1950's could be a wintering population.  However, it was the same areas described by Mr. Walston as Connecticut's "Blue Crab Graveyard" and heavy predation by the starfish which had become abundant.  The starfish is a serious salt water predator of the blue crab and in the 1950's starfish were abundant in Long Island Sound.  A major paper Winter Predation on Blue Crabs, Callinectes Sapidus, By Starfish Asteria's forbesi by Peter J. Auster and Robert E. DeGoursey – NOAA – National Undersea Research Center (1994) Journal of Shellfish Research Vol. 13, No. 2, pages 361-366 described intense predation by starfish in the lower Mystic River Estuary.  In one drive, pictures were taken showing attacks on torbid blue crabs; pg. 363-364 had this segment "up to 19 starfish were observed preying upon a single blue crab" and "Eighty one percent of blue crabs observed (21 crabs) during a single dive in February 1981 – temperature -1oC (30oF) were being preyed upon by starfish." 

Although Tom's Creek was a good blue crab spot in 1973 (August) I caught 45 large male blue crabs in one day on one handline.  I soon thought about a different type of trap (all wood – wire traps had not yet become prevalent) a triangle frame with one front in line funnel.  Baited similar to a wood lobster pot but a tringle shape as it would "fish" regardless of what side for blue crabs but never could get enough to fill orders and most of our fish customers wanted picked out meat, not live crabs.  I did submit designs for this triangle pot but it was not approved because it was not guaranteed to be personally attended (See April 15, 1974 letter – Appendix #2).

Tom's Creek
Early Tom's Creek crabbing was done with tarred manila twine on a rectangular wood frame, commonly called a handline. That twine was rough not like the smooth nylon twine synthetic of today you needed to dry these lines putting them away wet or leaving them in a bucket invited bacterial rot. That twine often had a treatment a tar like dip in these medium lay twines had a memory that is they seemed not to tangle when dropped (I still prefer tarred nylon for this reason).  Hard twist (lay) twines we're stiff and at times almost rigid.  Some of us perhaps still remember these handlines. I still use wood to hold these lines and usually fished four of them. For bait we used fish heads so a good blue fish day provided the bait for next day of blue crabbing.

In the 1960's, Tom's Creek ran long the western dunes at the west end of Hammonasset beach hitting a 1955 Army Corps of engineers sheet metal driven jetty. Tom's Creek had a history of sand dune breaks dating back to the 1800's; this morphology is similar to other creek inlets taking a shortcut or breach during storms one of the reasons for the flood and erosion control jetties for the West End of Hammonasset Beach.  They were built to stabilize the entrance of Tom's Creek period to keep the dunes from collapsing.  The metal sheet piles were about 5 feet above high tides because of the sharp exit angle a deep scour are developed adjacent to the end of the jetty. This deep hole became a dangerous jump off spot even at low tide as the creek drained this area was still deep. The erosion in time threatened to have the creek exit east isolating this barrier.  A previous inlet for a small creek –Dowd's Creek was about 1/2 mile east but that had been filled as the State Park was developed in the 1920's this exit was about where the grand pavilion once stood and since has taken down.  Some excellent pictures can be found in "Images of America Hammonasset Beach State Park" by Brian Noe and Shelby Docker on page 114 (2017), which shows this once creek exit.

At low tide, Tom's Creek had a foot or so of water in bends two to three feet deep. It is here one of the edges of the bends oysters grew long and thin. On the oyster shells grew sheets of sea lettuce producing a blanket of green and the place where blue crab soft shells hid while shells hardened. This is where Chris Bevans and I caught so many softshells. The first memories of blue crabbing was in Toms Creek a section of marsh was dry at most tides and it was here that the westerly branch an easterly branch of Toms Creek combined into a single exit flow.  Chris was able to come blue crabbing last year and that report was posted on The Blue Crab ForumTM, NE Crabbing Reports – North of Brockway Island, CT, September 7, 2020.

•   1958 The Blue Crab Minimum

In 1958, the waters of Long Island Sound were cool and a species reversal happened.  It is also the year that shad catch would also peak.  The oyster sets in Long Island Sound were very poor or nonexistent.  Even algal species changed and blooms of algae that needed cool water nitrate soared.  The September 1957 National Geographic magazine article quotes Dr. Victor Loosanoff of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Milford, CT shellfish laboratory. As to the amount of nitrate fed algae which grew so dense in Long Island Sound as to create public interest as to the potential of utilization as human food.  This was a period of cooler water and at a time blue crabs were scarce in southern New England.

September 1957 National Geographic magazine article quoted Victor Loosanoff stating "It's almost pure Chlorella could produce from (Long Island Sound by Fessenden S. Blanchard 1958) far more protein that you can get from an acre of land even when planted with soybeans."

The problem was that Chlorella had a tough cell wall, young oyster larvae could not digest it, and became known as a poor food for oyster spat.  Oyster sets had declined and so had the blue crab.  But this blue crab decline had been seen much earlier by Connecticut officials in 1924.  The decline, by the 1940's, had reached Chesapeake Bay.

The Connecticut Blue Crab Declines In the 1920's

Report of State Board of Fisheries and Game – Biennial Report 1923-1924
December 1st 1924 State of Connecticut Public Document No. 19

On Pg. 12
"The crab is nearly extinct in Connecticut waters and at present has no protection"

And on Pg. 54
The Blue Shell Crab – 1924 comments

"This edible crustacean known to scientists as "Callinectes sapidus" which, translated from the Latin means "hard shell dainty" has become very scarce along the Connecticut coast as well as in adjoining waters.  Ordinarily this crab eaten is various styles at home and in restaurants, is called the "blue crab" because its upper surface, especially about the claws are colored blue.  It has become so expensive and scarce along the Maryland coast, where in comparison with other waters it is most abundant that it became necessary to enact laws regulating the catch, and in Maryland the crab fishery is regarded as a of so much importance that it has been necessary for the conservation department to patrol the waters of Chesapeake Bay in order to enforce the laws pertaining to the regulations of the catch.  During the past year these soft shell crabs in Maryland from $3.00 to $4.00 a dozen and hard crabs from 69 cents to $1.50 per dozen (1923 prices, T. Visel).

It is now known to those who observe its movements that the female crab, when her eggs are hatching seeks water rich in salt.  Each female crab bears from 1,750,000 to 2,000,000 eggs at a time.  These eggs are carried on the abdomen of the female crab just as the female crab is called the "sponge crab."  The nearly hatched crabs are so tiny in size that they cannot be seen with the naked eye do not resemble the mature crab, but pass through several stages of development before they become perfectly formed crab.  The female "sponge crab with its eggs should be protected if the state is to save the crab from permanent annihilation.  It must be given an opportunity to breed naturally.

The remarks about the crabs were inspired by a man who wished to restock one of the coves at personal expense, but wanted to know whether the commission could protect them.  Restocking to cove where pollution conditions are not too serious is possible provided the sponge crab used for the purpose have proper protection.  A barrel of sponge crabs purchased and transferred from waters where they are abundant would furnish many millions of crab.  It is not too late to encourage the restoration of the crab industry by providing protection for the sponge crab." 

•   Blue Crab Wintering – Watt En Schlick of Germany

The Blue Crab Habitats dominated by Iron and sulfur composts – We should examine habitats for the blue crab.  They contain complex chemical interactions.  The sulfide deadline may cause winter kill if ice and cold water allows sulfide formation.  In the last few posts, I have mentioned the need to examine how sulfide chemistry of marine composts – alters blue crab populations.  Donald Rhoads of Yale University described sulfide as the "silent seafood killer" it killed shellfish and fish "quietly"and out of sight.  A very cold winter with ice causes sulfide to kill fish in ponds and often described as the "winter kill."  In summer, another type of sulfide kill occurs as warm water naturally holds less oxygen.  Again, the chemistry of compost digestion by sulfate reducing bacterial action puts sulfide into the water.  These kills are usually associated with a strong sulfur smell, the smell of rotten eggs.  The chances of a sulfide kill are enhanced by soils that gain organic matter, they begin to gather a loose ooze organic compost.  In high heat, it turns into a sapropel and releases sulfide.  Another type is a quick release of sapropel.  This is when sapropel is exposed to air or when dredging occurs in marine composts.  This is the river kill described by George McNeil, water flowing below ice (rivers) creates a venture effect and moves sapropel discharging sulfide under ice.  The iron-sulfur chemistry is what gives sapropel its black color.  Over time, once a sandy soil can become an organic compost.  This is a description from the Soil of the Year conference about intertidal flat soil.  What is not mentioned is that an increase in organic matter also increases the possibility of acidic waters.

One of the areas I think we should research is the iron/sulfur chemistry of wintering soils.  Blue crab spend their dormant period in a marine compost that can change chemically.  This is directly connected to marine soil chemistry and the presence of elemental oxygen.

The Intertidal Flat Soil (Wattboden)
Soil of the Year 2020
University of Hamburg Dr. Alexander Grangraft et al. Translation Dr. Einor Eberhardt Hannover, my comments T. Visel (           )

"While sand intertidal flats are stable and can be entered pure intertidal mud flats are soft and pasting, such that even wady birds sink into them the colonization with mussels, worms and other animals depends beside stabilization the content of organic substance.  The latter is higher in the mud flat soils then in the sand intertidal soils.  The regular flooding of the soils accounts for water saturating of most voids (soil pores, T. Visel) in intertidal flats soil.  Atmospheric oxygen penetrates into mud flats only some millimeters deep in sand flat soils – centimeters.  Along biopores and root canals, oxygen can enter several centimeters deep during low tide.  Also nitrate and sulphate trigger particular microbial oxidation and reduction processes.  The oxygen gradient and the amount of oxygen depleting organic substances control the redox potential and hence the processes going on in soils an intertidal flats, iron oxide is dissolved in reduced zones and can be precipitated together with Sulphur as black iron sulfide.  In the oxidized, rust colored zone, divalent iron ions are precipitated as iron oxide.  The color of the intertidal soils is determined by these processes."

Appendix #1

History Fishery Statistics for New England Northern Lobster Catch

The Collapse of the New England Lobster Stocks during the Great Heat 1880-1920

All states Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut total pounds of lobsters landed – 1924 being the base of the collapse except RI 1889 base year.  When the NAO turned negative in the 1950's and 1960's, this cool water species recovered from 1924 levels.  A negative NAO intensified storm intensity peaking between 1955 and 1960.

Maine       1889 – 25 Million lbs *1       
        1924 – 5.5 Million lbs
         1965 – 19 Million lbs

Massachusetts  1889 – 3.3 million lbs
        1924 – 1.6 Million labs
         1965 – 6.5 Million lbs
Rhode Island   1889 – 500,000 lbs *2
        1924 – 1.5 Million lbs
        1965 – 1.8 Million lbs

Connecticut       1889 – 1.6 Million lbs *3
        1924 - 700,000 thousand lbs
        1965 – 743,000 thousand lbs

*1  Maine's Heritage Production value is suspected being 25 million lbs.
*2  Rhode Island collapse started in 1886 – closed lobster fishery in 1905 – from the 15 of November to the 15th of April – repealed in 1906.
*3  Reflects landing from New York and Rhode Island waters also

Appendix #2
STA T E   0 F   C 0 N N E CT I C U T

Conservation and Preservation Law   Enforcement Unit

April 15, 1974

Mr. Tim Visel
720 South Indian Drive F.I.T., P.O. Box 132
Jensen Beach, Florida 33457

Dear Mr. Visel:
Enclosed is a copy of our state law governing the taking, selling and possession of crabs. We have no restrictions or laws concerning the Spider Crab.
Blue crabs can be taken only by scoop or scap net, trot line, hand line or manually operated and personally attended devices approved by the commissioner.
In order to have a personally attended device approved, it will be necessary for you to submit such device to the commissioner or a detailed drawing and picture of the device with complete instructions as to how it wou1d be operated. It would then be decided whether or not such device would be approved.
                                               Very truly yours,
Frederick J. Pogmore

Frederick J. Pogmore Chief
Law Enforcement Unit

FJP:ob Enc.

Appendix #3
The Crab Fisheries U.S. Fish Commission 1887 – Pg. 648
The Fiddler Crab, Oyster Crab Stone Crab and Other Minor Species
The Fiddler Crabs - 1887

"One species, which lives in the lower Mississippi River is stated to be occasional science damage to the levees, into which in constructs its burrows along with a species of crayfish."
The Green Crab - Pg. 651

"The green crab (Carcinus maenas-leach) has only a limited range on a coast, from Cape Cod to New Jersey, but is one of the most common of all European crabs. In Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay, and Long Island Sound, where it often goes by the name of Joe Rocker, it is  sometimes very abundant on rocky or peaty shore near the high water mark, and is highly regarded as a bait for the tautog. In the two former locations it is said to have formerly been much more a blanket than at present and to have been collected in much larger quantities by the fishermen for bait.

In some European countries, where it occurs it is extensively employed for food and bait."
Appendix #4
Flanagan or Sater – Int. 28879
For release MARCH 27, 1958


"The starfish, which is usually just another marine animal, has suddenly developed into a threat to the Long Island Sound oyster industry, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries of the Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service reports.
The crisis developed because of a "bumper crop" of starfish which increased that population about 10 times normal size. Eight years ago another such crisis occurred in Long Island Sound when invading starfish wreaked havoc upon oyster beds up and down the Connecticut coast.
The 1958 starfish invasion which has ruined from 60 to 90% of the oyster crops in some beds is the latest of a series of problems which have beset the oysterman of the area lack of seed oysters necessary to maintain the fishery an excess of the ever present oyster drill and the action of destructive storms are among the troubles of this unit of the industry.
The Bureau in the oyster industry have joined forces to attack these many problems. One policy upon which the scientists and the industry agree is the establishment of refuges In certain estuaries on Long Island sound where oysters can tolerate brackish water. Such a move would not only offer a haven against predators but would probably increase the setting of oysters to provide badly needed and seed for the continuation of the industry.

The Bureau through its biological laboratory in Milford CT has done considerable work on oyster problems of Long Island sound one Bureau project which has been carried to a successful conclusion in the laboratory stage is a method of artificial propagation of oysters another problem which the oyster Institute acting under contract with the Bureau has been probing relates to the use of natural ponds in estuaries in the seed oyster program other projects which are contemplated include expanded research on oyster larvae there Ford diseases and predators to determine the cause of good and bad settling years."

P.N. 33392
Appendix #5

Blue Crab Investigation Underway – Chesapeake Bay Fall 1941

Information Service, United States Dept of the Interior Wildlife Tips and Briefs
Washington DC.  Saturday, August 15, 1942
Vol 3, No. 6 Release

As the climate cooled onto the 1930's warm water Waterfowl species continued to decline and steps established to stop the decline and restore populations to high levels.  This press release contains this segment about the tax on hunting to fund these projects.

"Pittman – Robertson funds are used to financing projects set up directed by state governments for the restoration of all farms and wildlife within the individual states.  All projects are approved by the fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the Secretary Icles to determine whether they are sound in character and design.  The federal government pays 75% percent of cost of the project and the state 25 percent, funds appropriated by Congress for this purpose cannot exceed the amount recorded from the 10 percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition."

Virginia pg. 8 of the Press Release - August 15, 1942

-   Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Investigation Underway

"Management investigations on the valuable blue crab fishery of Chesapeake Bay, which has undergone a severe decline since 1934, are now well underway, reports the Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior.

"Since imports of Japanese canned crab ceased when war operations began in the pacific Chesapeake Bay crabs are now the greatest source of supply.  When National War plans call for a larger and more efficient production of all food – stuffs, this fishery which brings a livelihood to thousands of citizens in the Chesapeake Bay region must be made to produce as freely and abundantly as possible.

The primary aim of the present research, which was recently requested by conservation officials of Maryland and Virginia, is to determine the influence on the commercial supply of crabs of certain conservation measures that were recommended by the service following a survey in November, 1941.

The most important recommendation made was the seasonal establishment of a sanctuary area some 400 square miles known to be an important spawning ground for the blue crab and may prove to be the only area of significant spawning within Chesapeake Bay.

The principal problem which faces service biologists in future crab conservation research is to determine the influence of this sanctuary on future yields of soft and hard crabs.

The protecting of an adequate spawning reserve of crabs within this area may result in an increase in the catch of soft crabs of one year of age during 1943, also, the catch of hard crabs like wise may show an increase in late 1943, according to such benefits as may soon occur from an increase in the number of spawning crabs.

John C. Pearson, Service biologist who recently completed a report on the decline in abundance of these crabs, is conducting the present investigations, some 86 soft crab shedding houses in Chesapeake Bay are cooperating with the service by suppling data required for an analysis of the catch per unit of effort of soft crabs."

As the Chesapeake Bay region is more southern and naturally warmer than New England waters, the cooling of the Atlantic seaboard waters from a negative phase NAO would take longer.  Although the blue crab catch plummeted in the Chesapeake region in 1924, it recovered to decline after the 1938 hurricane and again in 1955 following two hurricanes - Commercial Fisheries Review (W. A. VanEngel, 1958), Vol. 20, No. 6.  The "blue crab minimum" occurred in the Chesapeake region in 1958-59 in lesser degrees in New England waters but show a pronounced dip.  In March (18-21) 1958, a nor'easter blanketed the mid-Atlantic region in snow.  The polar vortex had changed and the "westerlies" broke down (Winter 1957-58: A Divided Nation, David M. Ludlow Date by the Office of Climatology United States Weather Service – Weatherwise, Vol. 11, Issue 2, 1958).  It is a cold-hot conflict that energizes coastal lows.  The 1957-58 winter was a disaster to Florida citrus crops as the polar vortex reached Florida in a deep trough formation.  From the NOAA and The Preserve America Initiative – Freezes Damage Florida Crops 1957-58 – is this statement:

   Summary of Event – my comments T. Visel (     )
"Florida experienced disastrously cold temperatures during the winter of 1957-1958.  Temperatures dropped below 20oF in many locations across Florida, with official temperature readings in Lakeland, FL of 25oF and Tampa, FL with 27oF.  An artic high centered itself over Florida several times throughout the winter season (signaling a massive breakdown of the westerlies – T. Visel), bringing light winds, calm skies, and freezing temperatures to the state.  The Florida citrus crop experienced severe damage estimated at greater than $5 million – The New York Times, 1958."

In 1958, the NAO standardized three-month running mean NAO index was a negative 2.75.  The low pressure of Iceland exerted less influence on the polar vortex.  A long cold winter could change marine soil chemistry.  Blue crabs that winter over in marine composts (sapropel) may show the greatest winter kills – my view, Tim Visel.