If you live in the Chesapeake Bay region, you may have heard people refer to Maryland blue crabs by a number of different names. Is that a Jimmy or a Sook? Or is it a Sally? Or a Sponge? What’s the difference anyway? All of these names are actually used to differentiate crabs based on their sex and whether or not they’ve reached maturity.
So what’s in these names? Get your blue crab names straight in our blog!
Maryland Blue Crabs: What’s in a Name?
All Jimmies are male crabs, but there are actually two different kinds of Jimmies: number 1 and number 2. All males have a long, thin apron on the bottom of their shell, commonly known as the “Washington Monument.” They also have blue-tipped claws.
A #1 Jimmy is a male blue crab that has filled out its shell and has enough meat to be caught and sold for steaming.
A #2 Jimmy crab is not as big as a #1. These are male crabs that have recently shed their shell and haven’t yet grown a new one (this process is called molting). These may be caught and sold as soft shell crabs, or lump crab meat. These crabs are also known as whitey’s.
A sook is a mature female Maryland blue crab that is ready to mate. Their aprons are round and shaped like a dome, sometimes called the “Capitol Dome,” and they have red-tipped claws. Like Jimmies, Sooks are also sold in bushels. They are usually cheaper because they have less meat. Sometimes, restrictions are placed on Sook catches in order to help replenish the crab population in the bay.
These are immature females. They can’t mate or carry eggs. You can tell a Sally from a Sook because the Sally’s apron is shaped like a triangle. They are also smaller than Sooks.
These are female crabs who have mated and are carrying eggs under their apron. They can carry up to 2 million eggs under their apron. Amazingly, only one or two of these eggs will become a crab.
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Tags: Maryland blue crab