Appreciating the beauty of winter landscapes….now and in the future

Today Tom and I flew across the country from Utah to Maryland to spend a few days with my parents and see my siblings and their families. I was happy that it was a clear day in Baltimore and that we were arriving in the late afternoon while it was still light. One of my favorite views from the plan is the Chesapeake Bay. Today I saw tributaries of the bay that were partially iced over in and around land formations. Glimmers of sunlight danced on the ice and the water, creating a playful and beautiful scene.  I wanted to take photos but the window was too scratched to take a photo that would do the scene justice.

Most of my memories of the Bay and the Ocean are from summertime vacations with my family in my childhood and youth.  Seeing it in the winter time brings a new experience for me, even for just brief moments.  During my descent into the Baltimore area, as I gazed at the Bay, I wondered what the Chesapeake Blue Crabs’ behaviors are like in the winter time and if they hibernate in cold weather.  I love the Blue Crab and have so many memories of  watching and observing blue crabs, catching a few with the best crabber of all time (my grandmother), and even being pinched by them!

So I did some research when I was at my computer and found information on how blue crabs behave in the winter:

When air temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C), adult crabs leave shallow, inshore waters and seek deeper areas where they bury themselves and remain in a state of torpor throughout the winter. Blue crab growth is regulated by water temperature. Growth occurs when water temperatures are above 59°F (15°C). Water temperature above 91°F (33°C) is lethal. Blue crabs are susceptible to sudden drops in temperature.

 
When the water temperature starts to fall and the days start getting shorter, the blue crab retreats to deep water and burrows into the muddy or sandy bottom to spend the winter. A crab buries itself by forcing its abdomen backwards into the bottom with quick snapping motions. While doing this, the crab will also pick and claw at the bottom with its hind walking legs and flip it away with the paddles of its swimming legs. Within a few minutes the crab is resting at a 45° angle in the bottom, with only antennae, the tips of its eye stalks, and small breathing channels visible in the mud. Crabs do not hibernate, rather they lie dormant for the long winter (usually from November through May.)

I learned a little more about the wildlife in my home state today by researching what sparked my curiosity. Sadly, I know the Bay has been in peril due to pollution which has dramatically decreased the blue crab population.  Still, for today, I reveled in the beauty of the water from above, the reflection of habitat within the water, and the desire to hope for continued views of scenes like this in the future.

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