The University of Delaware and Sea Grant have concluded a study that investigated the presence of abandoned crab pots in the state’s inland bays.
The assessment looked into so-called ghost crab pots in three main areas of the Rehoboth Bay: Love Creek, Herring Creek/Guinnea Creek and Bay Cove. The survey of 100 acres discovered 160 ghost crab pots with nearly half of the findings being located in Bay Cove near Dewey Beach, with 3.5 pots per acre.
The study states that in addition to littering the seafloor, the derelict crab pots can cause injury to swimmers, damage boat propellers and have the potential to “ghost fish”, luring sea creatures then trapping them.
Researchers say blue crabs are cannibalistic and when trapped in the abandoned crab pots, they can attract additional crabs, or other organisms. They also say the pots had dead sunfish, oyster toadfish and largemouth bass.
Kate Fleming of Delaware Sea Grant said “This gives us a bit of a window into what species we might expect to find if we get back out there to pull at a larger scale.” Moving forward, researchers hope to launch a program that locates and removes abandoned crab pots.