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Maryland Seafood

Updated on November 27, 2012

Maryland Seafood - Crabs, Oysters, Clams, Scallops, Fish

Maryland has an excellent variety of seafood available.

The state is famous for blue crabs, rockfish (striped bass), sea bass, sea trout, croakers, spot, oysters, clams, scallops and other fish and shellfish.

Maryland is also famous for its festivals where enthusiasts gather to sample and enjoy crabs, oysters, clams, fish and other seafood.

Maryland Seafood Festivals

Seafood festivals are a great way to celebrate Maryland and sample some great seafood. Some Maryland seafood festivals focus on one delicacy, such as crabs or oysters while other events feature a wide selection of local seafood.

Often one price gets you in a festival with many items available for no further charge. Other festivals simply change an admission price and then provide an array of vendors who sell specialty seafood creations and other fun foods.

J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield

Held every year on the third Wednesday in July at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, this annual celebration is named in honor of Crisfield native, J. Millard Tawes - the 54th Governor of the State of Maryland. This event is an outdoor all-you-can-eat affair featuring crabs, clams, fish, corn on the cob, watermelon and more.

Maryland Seafood Festival

The Maryland Seafood Festival is a rich tradition in the State and has been held annually for 40+ years, with the most recent 30 years being held the weekend after Labor Day at Sandy Point State Park.

St. Mary's County Crab Festival

The Crab Festival is a celebration of St. Mary's Crab Culture and Cooking. The event has steamed hard crabs, crab soups, crab cakes, and other seafood dishes available for purchase.

Ocean City Harbor Day

"Harbor Day - At The Docks," is a family friendly program highlighting Ocean City's important local maritime culture and traditions, including both commercial and sport fishing heritage. The program is held along the waterfront and parking lot adjacent to Sunset Avenue in West Ocean City. The event includes exhibitor's tents, educational displays, demonstrations and access to commercial and sport fishing boats.

Popular exhibits include seafood cooking demonstrations, fish cleaning techniques, net mending, marlin rigging, children's games and many other local maritime related topics. Government organizations, local artists and musicians are also on hand.

Chesapeake Bay Seafood

The Chesapeake Bay is famous for its seafood, especially oysters, blue crabs, hard clams, soft shelled clams and a wide range of fish.

The most famous Maryland saltwater fish is the rockfish or striped bass.

Other Chesapeake Bay fish include gray trout, speckled trout, croakers, spot, black drum, red drum, flounder, black sea bass, tautog, sheepshead, porgy, white perch, and yellow perch .

Maryland Seafood Books

Cooking Maryland seafood - oysters, blue crabs, soft crabs, hard clams, soft shelled clams and fish.

jimmy crabs
jimmy crabs

Maryland Blue Crabs

The blue crab has been abundant in the Chesapeake Bay throughout most of its history. Male crabs can be distinguished from females by the shape of the abdomen.

The male has a T-shaped abdomen that is held tightly against the body until maturity when it becomes somewhat free. The immature female has a triangle-shaped abdomen that is tightly sealed against the body. The mature female's abdomen becomes rounded and can be easily pulled away from the body after the final molt.

Large males, called Jimmy crabs, have blue claws and legs. The mature females (sooks) have orange tipped claws. Males typically grow larger than females, sometimes reaching 7 or 8 inches in point-to-point width. Some males have been reported up to 10 inches.

Most Chesapeake Bay commercial crab harvesting is done using crab traps. A trap is a rectangular device made of chicken wire about 2 feet wide. It has inverted funnels in the sides, through which the crab enter. The trap is baited with fish. It is said that crabs can detect and locate the source of fish oil from a distance. In some areas of the bay, blue crabs are also caught in by trot lines, bank traps or scrapes.

In 2011, Maryland watermen landed roughly 25 percent of U.S. blue crab landings.


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