Hudson River’s Blue Crab Tagging Program

Learn how to properly handle and report a tagged blue crab in New York State.

(Image courtesy of NYSDEC)

Along the Hudson River Estuary, you can find blue crabs from Troy to the New York Harbor. Each year from July through October, Hudson River Fisheries biologists tag these crabs to learn more about the seasonal movements of the spawning population. They collect blue crabs using baited crab pots and record length, sex, and stage for each one. Before releasing the crab into the river, biologists secure a yellow tag across the back of the crab.

The tag legend has the tag number, DEC research, and a phone number (845-256-3009). If you catch a tagged crab, please call the phone number to report the tag number and location where the crab was caught. This recapture data is recorded from recreational and commercial crabbers along the Hudson River and marine waters.

A summary of tag returns documents the movement of crabs south to New York Harbor for winter. Recently, a crab was recaptured 294 days after it had been tagged in 2021. This was a surprise as they generally molt their shells several times a year when they are mid-sized. One crab traveled 89 miles over 266 days from where it was tagged near Chelsea, New York to the mouth of the Raritan River in New Jersey. Another crab traveled approximately 99 miles over the course of 304 days to Hempstead Bay. No wonder the blue crab’s Latin name, Callinectes sapidus means ‘beautiful swimmer’!

Please visit the state Department of Health’s website for a blue crab cooking and eating guide and a blue crab consumption advisory from the Hudson and other waters of New York.
For more information about the blue crab, visit DEC’s website Blue Crab in the Hudson River.

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